FINE MOTOR SKILLS, BY NICKY BEER
The hearts we drew were such terrible disappointments
for so long. Long, that is, narrow and limp as an old carrot.
Listing to one side, two sad, embarrassed humps at their apex,
their single foot a dagger in rigid indentation. How we envied
the rare ones who were good at it, their gifts smugly symmetrical.
Fatly full of a feeling anyone could see. Our bad, thin hearts
haunted us. And we worried that even if we could master
the secret to making them perfect, it would come too late.
That in graphite, burnt sienna, buckled-dry watercolor,
our inadequacies were irreversible. Was it any wonder, then,
how our little spites nurtured—the broken pencil, the hiss
in the ear in the hallway? Why behave otherwise if the shape
of love remained so elusive, if our hands would always fail us?
Nicky Beer is a bi/queer writer and the author of The Octopus Game (Carnegie Mellon, 2015) and The Diminishing House (Carnegie Mellon, 2010), both winners of the Colorado Book Award for Poetry. Her awards include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, a fellowship and a scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a Mary Wood Fellowship from Washington College, a Discovery/The Nation Award, and a Campbell Corner Prize. Her poems have been published in Best American Poetry, Poetry, The Nation, The New Yorker, The Southern Review, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. She is an associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver, where she co-edits the journal Copper Nickel.