How To Function In An Anxious State – Hannah VanderHart

Keep the children and their sounds at home.

Cut up that melon. Do not wait for ripeness.

Bring out the box of toys (hidden, closeted).

Write to your sisters. Wash your hair. Pull

it back again. Work by writing. Speak

like that lily on your counter: its six petals

opened too wide. Its dark pollen dropping      

onto its lowest lip. Its stamens: fingers to the sky.

This is what over-ripeness is like: a yell.

An openness. A bloom so wide it can be

no wider. This is as much daylight as that lily

will ever see, and on an ordinary morning

during a harrowing, when the verbs are flail,

rack and nail, the crucified is where

I need to look: the open palms, the arch

of eyes in surprise—because torture

is a surprise even up to the moment

of the brand. The tug of the nails. The fire.

The pulling. Because to live in a climate of

harrowing is pain and when I tell my child,

into every life: rain,

                      he replies: it is always

raining on me.
Hannah VanderHart

Hannah VanderHart lives in Durham, NC. She has her MFA from George Mason University, and is currently at Duke University writing her dissertation on gender and collaboration poetics in the seventeenth century. She has poems and reviews recently published and forthcoming at The McNeese Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, The Greensboro Review, Poetry Northwest and American Poetry Review. More at:

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