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Lieserl Runs Away
Jennifer Givhan
Writer of the Month


Absolutely not, Mama said. You absolutely cannot dig up Einstein
& bring him to the circus. Ever since I was a girl I’ve
associated special relativity with special dark chocolate—

I’ve been curious. I have a secret that sounds like pieces
of silver earrings jangling against earlobes, or the highest
tiny pinky key on the baby piano, better even if it’s out

of tune. Through the trees, the leaves rustle but that’s not
what it sounds like, not really. When I was a virgin,
my turquoise aftertaste. I’ve a penchant for punching

boys in the gut, for fun, the way a vintage circus poster
is fun, before the lion escapes his pen & the ringmaster’s
bleeding, thick black blood center stage. I’m light-years

from recovery, tailbone-digging science lab, sun
crystallizing test tubes flowering near eye-washing
stations, blistering visions I’m still the school slut. Everyone

said so. Only my mama wouldn’t believe it. & Einstein.
I imagine he never sent Lieserl to live on a farm with family, they say
she was mentally slow & died of scarlet fever as a baby.

But I believe she lived.       

                                                             Tonight I’m leaving
for the circus. Tonight I’m dreaming myself a star. 

Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American writer and activist from the Southwestern desert and  the author of three full-length poetry collections: Landscape with Headless Mama (2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize), Protection Spell (2016 Miller Williams Poetry Prize Series), and Girl with Death Mask (2017 Blue Light Books Prize). Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellowship, the Frost Place Latin@ scholarship, a National Latino Writers’ Conference scholarship, the Lascaux Review Poetry Prize, Phoebe Journal’s Greg Grummer Poetry Prize, and the Pinch Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in Best of the Net, Best New Poets, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Ploughshares, POETRY, TriQuarterly, Boston Review, AGNI, Crazyhorse, Witness, Southern Humanities Review, Missouri Review, and The Kenyon Review. She is editor-in-chief of Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and teaches at The Poetry Barn and Western New Mexico University.