Joy in the Loft by Claudia Emerson

Whenever she looked at Joy this way, she could not help but feel
that it would have been better if the child had not taken the Ph. D.

And so, it is not only the leg, taken
this second time, she laments, but the eye, the one
she imagines in the valise in the hollowed-out
Bible, socketless eye for the eye lost
as the leg as it had been hers, a dimly remembered
girl’s.  She doesn’t need to look down, through
the nothing in which she has professed to believe,
but she does, of course, willing the body again

toward it, invisibility, pure space.
The blind brain arguing the mind even now,
the missing arch tingles as though waking
from sleep as the calf muscle tenses,
quick, rebellious, from climbing
thew ladder to this: phantasm-what-is.


recent-meR. T. Smith has edited Shenandoah since 1995 and serves as Writer-in-Residence at Washington & Lee. His forthcoming books are Doves in Flight: 13 Fictions and Summoning Shades: New Poems, both due in 2017.