Liz Bahs poet

Liz Bahs’s poetry investigates vocal texture and refrain. Her themes range from corsets to making jam, from London buses to art class, plane crashes to a cow stampede in her native Florida. She blogs at

The Thinking Chair

for Emily

We always knew what was coming—
my sister waited to be caught, I ran
to the nearest room with a lock. The older

I was the longer I stayed in, until our mother
could get hold of me, drag me to the captain’s
chairs in the dining room. Facing each other,

knees touching, my sister and I
had to think until we knew
what we’d done. Once: our mother got tired

of shushing us, or the phone rang, or
our brother started another electrical fire
in his room— that afternoon, our two chairs

a wooden ship, tied with socks to secure us,
like pilgrims we sailed to The New World.
We fell asleep at sea, the sun low

behind the grapefruit trees, small bare legs
entwined, stuffed toys clutched
to our unrepenting chests.



Though they jangle beneath her coat, locked
to her belt loop with a steel carabiner, she keeps

checking them as she walks across town, touches
their edges with her fingertips once, twice—

brass Chubb to her friend’s wooden gate; skeleton
for the Houghton Lake Hotel; square Krypton

for the missing bike links; slim silver
from the old beach shack; her first dead-

bolt on a chain spelling her name. She doesn’t have
her own house or there’d be too many:

blue window turns, garden shed, grandfather
clock, extras for the neighbours. For now

she lodges over a shop, no need for more
than the one fine-bladed Cole to let herself in,

but the whole set provides a heavy pull at the waist
of her jeans, that sway and slap against her hip.

Sometimes, once she’s hung them on the hook
above her bed, she finds little bites along her thigh.

[Keys was shortlisted for the Troubadour International Poetry Prize, 2011; The Thinking Chair was published in The Rialto, 73, Autumn 2011]

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