We Do Not Yet Know All the Ways by Sarah Etlinger

We Do Not Yet Know All the Ways

our hearts can break:

how could we know
all the cracks and fault lines,
when the bends and curves
of terrain have not been crossed;

how could we know
what we’ll require
when we are left, pitched
in leaky tents and shivering
with nothing but wet leaves for beds?

We cannot know these things
without maps, without valleys and rivers
carved into our skins
from love’s worn compass;

we do not know yet
how we will crave
the scents of love
spent tapering the night
down to melted wax,
or how your hands
learn mine, the way dew
learns the curve
of grass blades;

we have not yet come to know
just how, when morning sighs
and the sun insists
it’s time for warmth,
we are already waiting
like water on sleep’s surface,
with ink
on our fingertips
to draw the map,
fill in the broken lines,
show us where
the path will fork.

Sarah A. Etlinger is anEnglish professor who resides in Milwaukee, WI, with her family. A Pushcart nominee, she is the author of Never One for Promises (Kelsay Books, 2018), and Little Human Things (forthcoming from Clare Songbirds in 2019). Her work can be found in places like CliteratureNeologism Poetry JournalThe Magnolia Review, and many others. Interests include cooking, traveling, and playing the piano.

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