Jeanine Walker: “On the Two”




The line between the toe and heel is endless––
once more it strays singly, then travels
around the map made by shadow
crossing shadow, one gray cord against another.

Look down! Though you walk, the line
does not follow you; the line that touches
twice your skin soon leaves you, and travels
deep into the night deepened by the stars.

And where, steady traveler, where do you go
as the streets offer you distance
and the shadow that rises from your foot
to your eyes to above lifts your cover?

If it is a city into which you walk,
then deeper into the city you go.
Or to the unlit streets, beside the shallow corn fields
and dirt spread out by many hands—

either one place or the other—whichever
holds you as you step, off now of the line
that began your walking—reflects the mind
that made you wander, drawn to catch

the single line that goes from toe to heel,
and everywhere. If you stumble, the light stars
see you laughing. Once more the light
is merely the black cloth that holds

your open chest back from day. And the stars,
holes made by your questions.
And the stars, holes that awaken your quiet notions
and witness you searching for an end to your gaze.



Jeanine Walker is the author of The Two of Them Might Outlast Me (2022). Recognized with grants from Artist Trust, Jack Straw Cultural Center, and Wonju, UNESCO City of Literature, she has published work in Chattahoochee Review, Prairie Schooner, New Ohio Review, and elsewhere.

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