Issue 23 | Fall 2019

Via Negativa

     “I knew then / that I would have to live, and go on / living: what a sorrow it was; and still / what sorrow burns / but does not destroy my heart.” —Jane Kenyon


 she is gasping
in the water, making eyes
 at the ceiling,
                at the asp, grasping his hands.


Here it comes, the old psalms, vapors
                      escaping. The Good
Book is the best book ever and this is how
        we fail every day—communion
between poet and parishioner,
              an indistinguishable translation
of missteps. The same way glass
                                                          is man-made and not the same
golden light that crests
                                            Heaven’s gables and cantilevers.


My tongue is not the tongue of an angel, as in my dreams.
Only my uterus is being born again on the settee, tacked

with upholstery by the carpenter, the very man who wall-
papered the stanza, built the confessional, covered the legs

of the indecent pews. Why else would Jesus have such a modest
profession, why else would my body take
                      this opportunity to open
                      her zaftig ruby mouth
                      for carcass after carcass?

Filed under: Poetry

July Westhale is the award-winning author of two books of poetry (Via Negativa, and Trailer Trash, selected for the 2016 Kore Press Book Prize), two chapbooks (Quantifiable Data, and The Cavalcade), and the children’s book Occasionally Accurate Science. Her most recent poetry can be found in The National Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, CALYX, The Indianapolis Review, Vinyl, Tupelo Quarterly, RHINO, Lunch Ticket, and Quarterly West. Her essays have been nominated for Best American Essays and have appeared in McSweeney’s, Autostraddle, and The Huffington Post. She has received fellowships from Writing by Writers, the University of Arizona Poetry Center, and the Lambda Literary Foundation.