the man with large hands

The small loves are sometimes the best,
like falling in love with a man with large
hands because he waved them at you
across a table, his fingers splayed like

faulty dock joists, and all of a sudden
you are in a boat mooring up to one
of those skeltered poles, one foot over
the edge, trying to gain footing on

the tumbling slats, the ocean roiling
beneath you, the boat your one sure thing,
all you can depend on, yet you have one
leg hoisted like a flag of infidelity

waving in the air, and the man’s hands
seem like an anchor to a part of yourself
you’d forgotten, one finger pointing
its light through the fog of your life

to the town you lived in when you
were a girl. You remember it so clearly,
there, on the other side of this big, dark
sea you crossed alone. You swore

you’d never go back, no matter what
they said to lure you, no matter how
safe you’re sure it would be, these small
loves enough to slake the thirst of your

journey to this moment when one
pair of hands can suddenly break
upon you like a bucket of water
splashed against your sleeping face.

Laura McCullough

Laura McCullough’s second book of poems, What Men Want, is forthcoming from XOXOX Press. Her first, The Dancing Bear, debuted in 2006 with jacket blurbs by Stephen Dunn, Li-young Lee, and BJ Ward. Her chapbook of prose poems, Elephant Anger, was published in 2007 by Mudlark. She’s been a Prairie Schooner Merit Scholar in Poetry and been a New Jersey State Fellow in both poetry and prose. She holds an MFA in fiction from Goddard College and her work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, New South, The American Poetry Review, Nimrod, Crab Orchard Review, Boulevard, Poetry East, Hotel Amerika, Gulf Coast, The Portland Review, and other journals.

Laura McCullough holds an MFA in poetry from Goddard College and has been awarded a NJ State Arts Council Fellowships in poetry. He is Assistant Professor of English at Brookdale Community College, NJ and adjunct Professor of writing at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. He is completing his doctoral thesis on Hawthorne and Melville, the myth of American exceptionalism in literature, and the dynamics of beauty at the University of Essex in the UK.


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