It told me to work. It threw me scraps of money
like a starving rat being trained in a psychology lab.
I worked: I even polished the rodent wheel when I was done.
I worked, and I was able to pivot around the holes
of my own hunger without falling in. I worked
until I learned how to coax magic out of the hollowed
top hat of desire. Things bloomed around all my absences
despite the wrong conditions for blooming.
I perfected how to work for it and then I mastered
that same work on a shoddy balance beam backwards.
I worked and you could have put work in the mirror
in front of my face and I would have seen myself.
It wants me to tell it about the shape of my loss now:
I trace my silhouette on cement under its heel.
Anne Champion is the author of Reluctant Mistress (Gold Wake Press, 2013), The Good Girl is Always a Ghost (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), Book of Levitations (Trembling Pillow Press, 2019), and The Dark Length Home (Noctuary Press, 2017). Her work appears in Verse Daily, Tupelo Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, Salamander, New South, Redivider, PANK Magazine, and elsewhere. She was a 2009 Academy of American Poets Prize recipient, a 2016 Best of the Net winner, and a Barbara Deming Memorial Grant recipient. She currently teaches writing and literature in Boston, MA. http://anne-champion.com