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The Sleeping Lady

Susitna slumbers high above Anchorage,
dreaming of her beloved, who took a javelin
to the gut the day before their wedding.
And you, biking home from work tonight,
are 20 minutes late. If you die, who will
cover me in snow and trees? Who will keep
me sleeping, with you not there to weight
the room? 
                 At the Crow Creek Gold Mine,
I found three flakes of gold, you, four, all seven
included in our plastic baggie practice packets.
We walked a trail of rusted shovels to a cold
river, singing “sluicebox, sluicebox” because
we liked the sound. We returned to a wedding
reception with a DJ and cake.
                                               If I could marry
you, I would marry you in a river full of gold.
Inside one ghost cabin, a tiny balance scale
weighed a nugget and two pennies. On the wall,
a black and white photo of someone’s mother.
Your face mirrored the glass and the music
kept playing. Trail maps, table of lanterns,
bear pelt bed and foggy moonshine bottles.
And we wed and wed and wed.


The Object Towards Which the Action of the Sea Is Directed

is the Aleut word for Alaska, a passive voice
construction that would mean docked points,
were this a sentence in one of my freshmen essays
about a belief they hold or a problem they see
in the world around them. One problem is passive
voice, I say. Cultivate your own unique voice, I say.
One girl writes of her reign as a native beauty
pageant queen. Another, of the smell of whale
blubber frying in a city so far north, haloes of ice
arc above the sky. Slowly, Ovid’s Io turns to Isis
turns to Raven and takes off. Their textbooks lie
open on the desks. The days are growing colder.


Alaska State Fair

The sign says “Happiness Is: Riding a Pony,”
but the pony paces his stable in quick nervous
skips—as he should, since he is being weaned,
not to mention the glittery man down the Yellow
Trail who rides two horses, one under each foot,
with a long whip in hand, to spicy Latin guitar music.
Pony, I am new in town and miss lightning and
also the sun. I fear the mountains are not enough,
nor the pony rides, nor the 65-pound cabbage.
And if I say I began an Iditarod musher trading card
collection just to have something; if I say the sled dogs
outside the gift shop, yipping and jumping in their lines,
were dirtier and leaner than I hoped they might be;
if I say I saw a man in a cardboard mask and thought
I knew his name, would you tell me, Pony, to wait
until winter—to hang in there and wait to see
what happens when the world gets really dark?  


Alyse Knorr is the author of Copper Mother (Switchback Books, 2015), Annotated Glass (Furniture Press Books, 2013), and the chapbook Alternates (Dancing Girl Press, 2014).  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, ZYZZYVA, Caketrain, Alice Blue Review, Drunken Boat, RHINO, Puerto Del Sol, and The Southern Poetry Anthology (Texas Review Press), among others. She received her MFA from George Mason University and has completed artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, the Millay Colony, and the New York Mills Arts Retreat. She is a co-founding editor of Gazing Grain Press and teaches English at the University of Alaska Anchorage.