Conditional

     Zoë Ryder White

 

If I feel more like sex when I am underfed it is not as good 

as when I feel more like sex because I am gluttonous. 

If then is implied. 

If then’s there, the sentence levers, see saws. 

If I can’t get my mind around the binary.

Bury the then. Prefer the pendulum. If I bury the then. 

If the flakes fall up, they fall up: a rent down pillowcase. 

If the pillowcase is rent, if the hens line their nests.  

If the body is living the body is aging if the body 

is aging the body is living if the body is irrelevant 

who is happier. To use the body to forget it. 

If I forget it and then remember again. 

If I am startled by what I find. If I lose my appetite. 

If my appetite governs my afternoon. 

If I make use of it.  If I am used. 

If I am trying to reach somewhere, if I am trying not to, 

if something is conjured up. If a body forms, 

is it yours? Is it mine?  If we’re talking about love. 

If the axiom’s undone.  Where are you? 

If your herd/your flock/your swarm. If your kindling. 

If your drove. If where in the midst of animals.

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Zoë Ryder White’s poems have appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Salamander, Thrush, Plume, Sixth Finch, Guesthouse, and Threepenny Review, among others. Her chapbook, HYPERSPACE, was the editors’ choice pick for the Verse Tomaž Šalamun Prize in 2020 and is available from Factory Hollow Press. She co-authored a chapbook, A Study in Spring, with Nicole Callihan. Elsewhere, their most recent collaboration, won the Sixth Finch chapbook competition in 2019. A former elementary school teacher, she edits books for educators about the craft of teaching.