I F   I   W R O T E   T H I S   I N   T H E   B L A C K   F O R E S T   W O U L D   Y O U   R E A D   I T

First thing’s first. I want your body. I imagine 
a door. You are in the room making jokes 
about how absurd you look in a plain t-shirt.

We haven’t seen each other in over a decade. 
I want the Danube to part and reveal our bones,

delicate curves of mollusks.  I want the Black Forest 
over us, canopy of dark where to lose the voice 
our mothers gave to us. Every wound unfurled, wet 

foxes out of our throats, tenderly at first then full run
toward the door. I move. You’re ever moving away 

from me. You’re not one for chances. You
stay right where you are. The soldiers prayed, 
too, for this transport to happen. A man 

lifts his body over the creek one last time 
to walk toward the desert mule that carried him

toward a lover that died two years prior.
His journey was spent, though, with her
and she was with him eating olives he picked

for her laughing at his jokes, his hands steered 
the mule continually west. His heart would give 

out later that year before the onset of winter. 
He knew it before he knew it. He wanted to thank 
the mule, remembered his brother falling off the roof, 

making patches for their father.  The impact broke 
his neck. He couldn’t see what his brother could 

see. We tell ourselves stories to keep sane. I know 
God  stalks me. I want the village of Gengenbach 
to gather for a banquet. I want the unearthed bodies 

of our anger to ask forgiveness from everyone 
we’ve married, then set you, unhinged, under me.

​​H O W   F E E T   A R E   M A D E

How somewhere a bowl 
tilted inside an ocean
mouth of a baby world—
lengthening. Wonder’s first 
stretch inside circles—
lines of a road along fetlocks—
how foals inside the bowl 
moved mountains into plains 
into pockets of asking, 
desiring Mothers, 
Fathers who trip, 
fall into, and in—
two ways to belong 
to each other, to gallop.


Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her first full-length book, Before Isadore, is forthcoming with Sundress Publications and she has two chapbooks in print with Thrush Press and Mouthfeel Press. She is an associate poetry editor for The Boiler Journal. Her work has appeared in the following: Devil's Lake, Night Train, Versal, Sugar House Review, Four Way Review, among others.

​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L

                  S H A N N O N    E L I Z A B E T H    H A R D W I C K