midriff: a hollow corpus of denuded beige hills
surrounded by restless traffic, engraved with paths
for cheap motorcycles, camel trains and beggars.
In the spring winds, dust gathered on the naked floors
As cottony balls under the chairs and I never dusted,
Never swept, watched them converge deep in the corners
Crowding like drift ice on a thawing river. Rather I was
Obsessed with escaping the locked door, my bedroom prison.
Too far to jump, I sat on the balcony above the desert writing
Naked poems in my ragged notebook, crying, plotting, sleepless
And hungry, begging. Nights I lay on the bare cement, listening
For his footsteps approaching in the hall as the dust collected
Outside, ignoring it each time I left for work in the mornings.
Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry. Over 100 of her poems appear in dozens of online venues and in anthologies. The natural world is generally her framework; she often focuses on the tension between nature and humanity, using concrete images to illuminate the loss of meaning between them. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California.