> Natural State
> by Maya Stein
> Because this is not who you are, really,
> pale-faced and purposeless, wandering
> the tiny acreage of your living room like a calf
> strayed too far from the fold and finding itself
> in the dregs of the field, where the spring mud
> clings and cloys.
> No, you are not that animal, not that field,
> not that edge, not that muck.
> Still, you peruse the catalogue of these familiars –
> narratives that make you feel less beautiful,
> the drawing and quartering of that which failed
> to live up to your best expectations, the ill-fitting
> memories from your childhood which,
> despite your efforts to render them whimsical
> testaments of your innocence and haplessness,
> nevertheless have clothed you with embarrassment
> that’s lasted for years.
> There is a trophy wall of catastrophe and collision
> you could knock your head against daily if you wish.
> Don’t worry.
> This is your natural state, which is to say
> you are living between these three stories:
> What was, and what is, and all that you carry –
> fervently, wildly, unstoppably – in your bones,
> the great carnival ride of the who knows what.
> Here you are.
> A liminal moonscape, a rope bridge of thick,
> unintelligible leaves,
> a foreign country where you can’t decipher
> the train schedule and where the menu
> has devolved into a toothy collection
> of consonants.
> It will be alright.
> You will find your way.
> The map is in your back pocket,
> where it’s always been.