about the author

Krystin Gollihue is the design editor for Black Warrior Review, a printer, poet, and pet astrologist. She lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where she is currently playing the banjo for her dog and pursuing her MFA in poetry. Her first collection of poems is forthcoming and available in part from her heart.

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The Spine

Krystin Gollihue

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The back will not move
like the rest—the ankles,
the elbows—all falling forward.

The spine is stub-
born: its nerves and pieces,
the stiff elongated shadow, rooted

as if it were petrified already.
It is stronger than glass.
The back will not shake

like the rest—it stays
still, and quiet like water
its cracks begin to move.

It carries a shock
down a river of marrow,
down a nest of sponge

breathing. It will know you,
hold together all your insides,
the silent strumming, now,

of the stomach’s strings, making
a new foundation. Whenever it
feels, it will find you, but it will not

find you out,
for the back is nothing
if not a blind keeper

making its blind rounds. All it
knows is this: when it finally breaks,
as you have done so many times

curling into a ball,
exploding into nothing but rainwater
like the bursting of a gutter,

it will sigh. It will sigh as if crying
into the body’s caves,
as deep and as low as it can.

Thirty-three eyes looking down into you,
it stands still,
and, then, never really breaking,

solid, stacked, and too
white to open itself,
or to make curves

that buckle and snap together,
and flow besides; or to follow
you back with all the rest.

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