The boy wants to know how many seconds we have been alive.
The boy says, Wait—in the middle of the museum, among all that
red paint. And so we sit, legs crossed toward one another
while, behind him, a great king’s son lounges in ivory. I think
how lucky we are not to be art, to be cast into roles we cannot
mold or reverse. Happy are we to sit with glowing numbers
in our palms, tallying each breath, each sword clash, each morning
when we could wake and decide not to accept the life we have.
Lauren Berry is featured in AGNI‘s Emerging Poets Interview Series. She is the author of the poetry collection The Lifting Dress (Penguin, 2011), a National Poetry Series Winner selected by Terrance Hayes. She received a BA from Florida State University and an MFA from the University of Houston, where she won the Inprint Paul Verlaine Prize in Poetry and served as poetry editor of Gulf Coast. In 2009–2010, she held the Diane Middlebrook Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin. Her work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, AGNI Online, Denver Quarterly, Iron Horse, and Cream City Review. She lives in Houston, where she teaches twelfth-grade English for YES Prep Public Schools. (updated 6/2012)
Read “Training Ritual for Threat: A Conversation with Lauren Berry” by Eric Higgins in AGNI Online.