Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

Nathalie Kirsch

contingency plans


There's a penny under the door, sandwiched
against the door stop, & it's been there

since we moved in. You've probably never
noticed it; I never pick it up.

One cent can't get anything these days.
What if you were in Paris on Friday, at a concert when

three men walk in and open fire on the room -- spilt
blood sticky like spilt beer, empty

bullet cases littering the floor like cigarettes,
red solo cups like poppies and you, like Dorothy, just fall asleep.

It will happen again, but we have to pretend not to know that yet.
This is the moment after the fireworks

have shot into the sky but before they've exploded
& we're just standing on the shorn grass, fresh clippings

sticking to our shoes & bare legs, looking up to the heavens.

skinny dipping in lake paran


Halfway there I want to turn back.
            I am not the adventurous kind
                        and the night looms heavy behind me.

The forest rises up around us
            like pillars or gods.
                        I bring up the rear, using

the flashlight on my phone
            until someone shouts, Turn it off.
                        I wait for my eyes to adjust

to the moonlight.
My friends – women –
            walk ahead with two

            I didn't know were coming.

I think of my boyfriend at home – maybe
            asleep but probably not.

If he didn't exist, if I didn't feel beholden

to another person, could I say
fuck it more easily and swim naked

with men I've only just met.

My friend's laugh waves
            through the air like sonar
                        and through the night I follow it.

I am too afraid to go back alone.

The moon is as high as the noon sun.
            On the shoreline, we strip. I slip

on the rocks wet with algae,
            falter as I step into the lake.

Our limbs are extraterrestrial,

our arms and hands inadequate
            to cover the coarse animal hair
                        between our legs. Or our breasts that glow
                                    like planets.

When we swim up to a floating dock
            on the other bank I climb out
                        and lay on it as if sunbathing,

as though I might diminish
            my self-consciousness
                        by begging someone

                                                to look at me.

I look at the men
            whose penises hang like pendulums.
                        Their chests glisten with water


from their hair.             For a moment,

I am both young and mournful.

Nathalie Kirsch is a poet living in Boston, MA. She is a supervisor at an independent bookstore, an MFA candidate of the Writing Seminars at Bennington College, and some of her work can be found on the internet.