Issue > Poetry
Alicia Lai

Alicia Lai

Alicia Lai was born and raised in Pennsylvania. She has performed as a US Presidential Scholar in the Arts and served as an arts advocate at the National Arts Policy Roundtable. Her work has been shown at the Smithsonian Institute, Sundance Institute, and Kennedy Center, and published in Kenyon Review, Copper Nickel, Nashville Review, and Cosmonauts Avenue, among others. Alicia currently studies neuroscience and poetry at Princeton University.

Slick


It makes me think of learning
to swim. How at first, it's all taking in

water. I know boys who have
sex like kicking in the lake,

everything pooled,
their backs like silver fish in the cold

light—the flailing and the gasping,
the sheets slinging them underwater,

releasing the bodies to the open air in
the morning. I want to lie around the room

with his T-shirt flung over a chair, blood
warm inside the body, fireflies in the yard.

Their lights pulse. Look how desire
transforms the plainest of us. In

the dark, ripe, I could pry
the scene open by wrenching

a lever. I am still.
When I look down, I can see

all those boys at once, the light pulling apart
their bare ankles. They know what I'm thinking

about: when two people kiss, they look like fish
coming up for air. In the morning there is spit

in the sink. In the morning I split
my hair. In the morning, I watch

a minnow give birth,
the mess of pearls it leaves.

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