Transference | Lindsay Daigle

It’s like I told you— He was waist-down naked,
stepped out of his teal pick-up, didn’t smile,
no, didn’t say anything. No, I didn’t say anything
either. I squeezed my friend’s wrist, we walked faster,
laughed a little because we were twelve.
I only looked at it once.

I grew up picturing illness
like shag carpeting, like a foot
pushing its footness
through unknown fiber-prisons.
It was when mom opened windows
in the winter, hair wet
with perfume, chiding the stick-around birds.
The radiators squealed. The money was not under
the mattress. I made my mind up
about the back door, how I keep locking it,
why it’s standing open again.

She chose three words to say
based on each ice cube left
in the glass. Second word—
Sounds like

Backwards, muffled, sometimes followed
by throaty laughter. I heard best
during brandy in the living room,
when they talked of black
eyes, of brothers, of quilt patterns
and darkness, phone calls
from missing daughters, back
porch binocular-guilt,
crossword puzzle excuses, hospitals,
jewelry, loneliness,
art. These woke me from dreams.
I couldn’t tell who was speaking.
I couldn’t tell if the spot under me
was piss or sweat.


It’s familiar to test the kitchen knives,
to shatter mirrors. It’s the same to
reach through barbed wire fences to
feel skin breaking open, blood like
fresh air, blood that misses the
ground-swells it came from.


(after Transference, Spoon, 2010)

Lindsay Daigle is interested in the ekphrastic process, how a writer might speak to and through a piece of art (visual and otherwise). She believes ekphrasis is not merely description, but an inhabiting of a space. Through her work, she is exploring how a writer orients herself within the space of a piece of art, why images surface the way they do in response, and what that tells us about ourselves. She is currently a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Barn Owl Review, Quarterly West, The Laurel Review, and elsewhere.


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