Poetry: I Mean for a Thing to Be Other by Eric Stiefel

Eric Stiefel’s gently mystical “I Mean for a Thing to Be Other” explores loss with the same curiosity and eagerness as a tongue investigating a missing tooth. Who has not felt the pull toward the torn edges of absence, even when it hurts?

I Mean for a Thing to Be Other

When I think of you, I think of you as you were, lying
nude, having kept nothing but your gloves or wading through
a carpet of flowers, into the dull halo each sunset promises,
that I, mistakenly, might call oblivion, having lost your mastery
of surrender, of toil and covet, having knelt, at first to wash
the dirt from your arms, if only for the pleasure of kneeling—

I’ve lost until loss became a kind of metaphor, as gray scales
pooling in a jar, moth-torn from thumb-brushed wings until
the body begins to falter, erratically, out of sight, fading,
the way suffering fades in the face of further brutality—
there’s tragedy, and then there’s living, you’d tell me,
dappled and dust-specked, unbroken by the wind.



Eric Stiefel

Eric Stiefel lives in Athens, Ohio with his dog, Violet. He received his MFA in poetry from Washington University in St. Louis, where he was also Junior Fellow in Poetry. He teaches at Ohio University, where he is a PhD candidate. He was named the winner of the 2018 Sequestrum New Writer Awards and a finalist in the 2018 Penn Review Poetry Prize.

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