In the presence of you, my mind blurs fear with estrangement. The documentary said polarized light is the way

fiddler crabs distinguish the space between familiar objects, distant forms.

The center is not the spirit. Or the burrow.

It is the grainy pieces that surround us. I am in pain for you, but I do not know you. The earth is dying, but insists on wind,

trembling upside down, a walnut tree's leaf.

Pattern is holy—if not, then body. What I miss most is the ability to hold

what is right in front of me. The swallow shits on the branch below, precious touch without even touching!
Our containers are separate so we fight for a piece of toast

buttered how we want it. One day soon, a hymn in the grass will startle.

Remember the hummingbird? Remember one bright species hovering close to your red shirt

while the sun attacked the cells of your skin?

Nicole Stockburger is the author of Nowhere Beulah (Unicorn Press, 2019). Her poems and visual pieces have appeared, or will appear soon, in Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Two Peach, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a BA in Studio Art and English from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied darkroom photography. Her work has been supported by the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences. Nicole lives just up the hill from her iconically hyphenated hometown, Winston-Salem.