EDITORS’ CHOICE – THE 2019 SANDY CRIMMINS
NATIONAL PRIZE IN POETRY
by Rebecca Levi
I decided to write my feelings big and hang them on the walls.
They didn’t fit inside me anymore, like that fever dream when
I was all I had for myself and it was already too much.
So I started picking apart Flemish tapestries, seventeenth
century, the thread faded in diagonal stripes, the greens pale-
skinned. Borrowed a loom. Practiced words like warp and shuttle. Nights I’d hear
clacking but by morning I’d wake to silence; the room’s acoustics
were always mysterious. It was quite a grand hall, the grandest
I could find, but it felt close around me. Like a den, or a Nap
Place. Lamps turned to dull. I learned to count time in rows of weft, not to
look at what I wove; feelings can’t be seen head-on till they’re ready.
I scoured my psyche for the strangest unnameable, wrapping each
round the bobbin. Got them all. When I pumped the treadle the fibers
throbbed together like piano strings, and I’d think of the insects
that died to make the reds. Afternoons I’d lie on my stomach, tap
my calluses on the tile; they clicked like tiny booted footsteps
in the steady shadows. It was like this a long time, till the thread
ran out. The walls trembled with new cloth. That day I looked up at last
at my thirteen-foot feelings, their snow-globe eyes, their whale bellies, hands
the size of my skull, and watched them dim behind the electric light.
Rebecca Levi is a musician, poet, and translator often on the road, often in Colombia. Her work has appeared in places like Columbia Journal, No Tokens Journal, and Your Impossible Voice, and she is a contributor to “If You’re Not Happy Now,” forthcoming with Broadstone Books this March. Her poem “December 31st” won third place in the 2018 Mick Imlah Poetry Prize at The Times Literary Supplement.