May 2008

B.T. Shaw


This marks an author's first online publication B.T. Shaw's first book, This Dirty Little Heart, won the 2007 Blue Lynx Prize from Eastern Washington University Press. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications such as Orion, Field, and The Burnside Review. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Takeoffs and Landings    

All would-be buoyant beings face the same fundamental
hitch: giving gravity the slip. Birds, bees, spent leaves falling
from elms and oaks manage to perform that monumental
trick, if only for a blink. And so we, that late summer,

when the downward force of living had done its worst on us
(or so we thought—not knowing yet that small gods do not sleep
till up means down and all that's right has left—world inverse
believed we could escape ourselves. The cabin at the lake

was dark when we arrived, but we had plans that didn't need
much light beyond the stars beyond the open door. Naked,
lying there, I felt the barest touch, a brush or small nod
of recognition, almost, through my hair. Then realized

both your hands were occupied elsewhere. Though what happened next
is up for some debate—who screamed, who leapt, who chased the bat
with broom in hand, who hid—in the end, truth is more than facts.
Those wings—translucent finger bones illuminated in

the flashlight's thin gleam—blur of sharp-edged flexibility,
relentless in the fight to stay aloft. You have heard me
wonder at the thumb-sized thing's curled toes, weird fragility
of the face's tiny pinch-pot nose. I never told you

though—the way, later, when we couldn't rise above the ground
we'd laid, how hard I wished we, too, had wings instead of blades.



B.T. Shaw: Poetry
Copyright ©2008 The Cortland Review Issue 39The Cortland Review