Poems by Stephanie Burt


Pine-Sol Cleaning Spray

Backless Dress


after Laura Kasischke

You fit the empty spaces
through which, among crowds, we have asked you to stride or sashay
to a T,
your mess of finely knotted laces
creating a kind of negative pressure, a sail-
boat whose lee
includes the whole of the
conference room, ballrooms, dressings rooms and graces
of any deity
able to bless people coming together to see
what each smooth strap
is able to hold up
while putting your rivals and ramshackle years through their paces,
at once concealing and putting on
cat-hair-scuffed, soft, matte solid-color display
wherever you came from, whatever you have done,
what smoke or steam rose in your wake, whatever entity
will miss you enough to get in anyone’s way
once we know that you’re gone.


Stephanie Burt is Professor of English at Harvard. Her most recent collection of poems is WE ARE MERMAIDS (Graywolf, 2022), and her podcast about role-playing games is Team-Up Moves (teamupmoves.com).




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