At the Top of the Nowhere Staircase

with a phrase from Marilynne Robinson


by Emmy Newman

In the practice of withholding rest  
I have become expert. 
The thickness of days

provide resistance to my touch
and curdle my mind into these dreamlands. 
I have been trying to tip my own expectations
in my sleep but I am sure of nothing 
but the pain of floating

in the Dead Sea, the white-hot water
drilling in with so much salt 
I become completely
unable to remember the slish and moil 
of standing on dry ground.

I have developed a taste for repenting I can’t shake.
I keep touching my finger to the electric coil
first by accident, then
trying to pay up enough
to bring the real world back.

About the Author

Emmy Newman’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, CALYX: A Journal, New Ohio Review, Yemassee, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for Best New Poets, Best of the Net, several Pushcart Prizes, and currently serves as the Marketing & Events Manager for Split/Lip Press. Find her on Instagram @she_wins_an_emmy.