Saturday Apr 13

LevinStephanie Stephanie Levin lives in Chapel Hill, NC with her two daughters.  Her poetry has appeared in Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, River Styx, and MARGIE: Journal of American Poetry. In 2010, she received a North Carolina Arts Council grant for poetry.  Her first collection of poetry, The Smoke of Her Body, is forthcoming from Jacar Press in late 2011.  Dorianne Laux writes of the book, "This one just has that punch in the stomach, wow, who the *&^# wrote this factor going for it. I like how the poems are strong, yet understated, loud and quiet at the same time.”  Currently, Levin is a distance education instructor for Johns Hopkins University's CTYOnline program.

Spooning in bed, her chin on my shoulder,
I watch her hand hang over the mattress’s dull edge.
This is the room where
she writes me love notes:  Just remember,
you’re the child I planned.  Your brother
and sister were accidents.  This is the wall
that hangs the calendar
that marks ahead of time the nights
she and my father have agreed to make love.
So good to be chosen by her.
I could have had any man I wanted, she tells me,
and I believe her, picturing her miniskirt
around her thighs at a party full of men
who are not my father, her fingertips
holding the wall as she inches through
the apartment in cork-heeled sandals.
I would’ve wanted her myself.
I move my earlobe closer to her lips.
She slips her words in
like canaries sent into the dark.

How to Dance
You let a hand lift your leg
above your shoulder, another
hand press your back forward.
Someone tells you to stay like that, and you stay.
At thirteen, you can make your body do anything.
Retiré:  bent leg turned out.
Demi-pointe:  almost, but not all the way.
Home:  your mother’s gaze extended toward the TV
as he drags his fingertips over your palm.
So many names to memorize.
Ankles shuddering.
As your legs do their tight scissors
across the floor, your arms unfurl, slowly
wave like sheets in breeze.
You must be beautiful,
watching the man outside the door, watching you
punch the hard knobs of your toes
at the floor until you feel the skin break.
You think every girl would do this if she could.