Shanley Smith, Hope College


Tired of rolling her fingers over her ribs
she picked a practice to smooth the tent-
like bones arching over her organs.

Began laying herself across train tracks
until her bones formed a flat sheet,
a shield of sorts to protect the slivers
that snuck between her marrow and muscles
and poked at her lungs.

Now that the wheels of the traveling circus
have rolled over her, she can breathe.
Finding a relief in the weights that steamroll her,

push her organs into new folds
like origami that keeps being transformed
into blank-page animals. She is an animal.

This waif thin creature, locks away her desires
in a cage she built for herself along the railway,
so that every passenger zipping by can see her sideshow
from their blurred window.

How she loves this tabula rasa state of mind.
A creature starved of thought and drive,
locking herself away, occasionally turning keys
to return to the tracks to lie down,

on the iron strips: unleashed, untied,
this tigress, this ape, this seductive snake,
and harmless waif of a woman lies.

Shanley Smith is currently a sophomore at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. There she serves as the prose editor of their literary magazine, Opus. She seeks to get her B.A. in Creative Writing and hopes someday to own a large Irish Wolfhound and live on either side of the American coastline.