He Seems Different, 1999, From the Series Soul Erased, Joyce Scott

High left corner zinnia sun

                                                                       black and white above

         the tilt and grin skeleton in

an x-ray purple shirtdress—:         Baby boy stands
already knee deep in the hill
both feet in the grave,   a sack
of bones with sweet straight teeth,
the pained grin of the mischievous
child. Curious tilt. Chubby cheeks &
forehead shine. Strange grey eyes.
The child who bites in the classroom.
Wants love but wants to sink his
no longer babyteeth into the subject.
He is the subject. He seems different.
Subject verb. Seeming looks like
enumerated bones. In future will he
be kept in a drawer? In future he
will be stored. ③ near the clavicle.
⑤ over the heart. The mountain holds
his feet. Little feet held in granite. Little
pelvis—: Little fish, what’s leftover
after dinner? Someone has eaten
the eye. Picked clean meal
of scrunch-nosed kora smile—:
discarded. Not cement shoes, but

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of Open Interval, a 2009 National Book Award finalist, and Black Swan, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, as well as Poems in Conversation and a Conversation, a chapbook collaboration with Elizabeth Alexander. She is currently at work on The Coal Tar Colors, her third poetry collection, and Purchase, a collection of essays. She teaches at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

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