2 Poems

Poetry / Lisa Fay Coutley


:: Letter to Future Me While Rewatching Game of Thrones ::

All the small centers of the center
leak now. People dress themselves
in endings. Tell me you haven’t
washed the snow from my hair.
I’m still cross-legged in the angry
age of our little epoch, blaming
the girl who turned herself clock
to get us this far. I hope you will
still be foolish enough to forgive
who we love, & that I am finally
among them. Today is when I
gave us a name you’ll braid white
down either side of our future
face. I cannot stop craning to see.
I spend so much time with you now
I hardly touch me anymore. Pleasure
is the smell that refuses to cast its
inevitable goodnight. Big spoon me
in the street. Your palomino knows
someday I’ll pull in that gravel drive.
Already I’ve named the pines for sap
tacking animal hair from my hands
to yours. Every center, like I’ve said,
ignores its eye. Did you stop fighting
artifice? Have you let yourself best
friend your assigned AI? How lonely
are you there, scoffing at the nature
of my reductive inquiries. Of course
the woman who succeeds me shall
be smarter than I. So yeah. Anyway,
the one thing I know won’t change
is everyone—you included—wants
a woman who saunters out of a fire.

:: Letter to Future Me Regarding Our 11s ::

Your face will slacken someday. Even
if it’s that day. That day that comes

more in the mirror now
than in bed or under running 

water scalding as mother
said. Should’ve slept with your bra

on if you wanted a man. These days
sagging alone, I watch the whole

Game of Thrones just waiting
for that tragic moment Wylis

holds the door. I am, after all,
yours. Your braless daughter,

Sad Mom. Doesn’t that just burn
your jaws? I know. Shh. Future me—

are you listening to the temperature
of my voice? My barometric

pressure? Do you know how
many heavy rains I’ve needed you.

From the writer


:: Account ::

Over the years I’ve writ­ten let­ters I’ll nev­er send, let­ters to my dead, let­ters to lovers, let­ters from an earth­bound poet to an astro­naut in space (and back), who were both, of course, parts of the speaker’s self need­ing dis­tance to be seen/to see clear­ly, to try make sense of what it means to be alive. Always they’ve been let­ters of miss­ing. Recent­ly, the per­son I’ve been missing—who I was afraid I might nev­er see—was me, specif­i­cal­ly Future Me. If I wasn’t wor­ried she wouldn’t arrive, I was wait­ing impa­tient­ly for her, as if mov­ing through trau­ma and grief and an espe­cial­ly dif­fi­cult year could have an end goal dressed in a bet­ter ver­sion of me wait­ing at the oth­er side of the seem­ing­ly nev­er-end­ing tun­nel. The heavy­hand­ed and all-too-famil­iar metaphor aside, I’ve been writ­ing to her as a way to make a list, maybe, of what I might like to see in my future (or not), and then she wrote back. This work, I guess, is a flare sent into dark­ness, and I’m mak­ing room for it because even if I can’t see clear­ly just yet, still, I have to tend the desire to keep look­ing. This is how I know to look.


Lisa Fay Cout­ley is the author of HOST (Wis­con­sin Poet­ry Series, forth­com­ing 2024), teth­er (Black­Lawrence Press, 2020), Erra­ta (South­ern Illi­nois Uni­ver­si­ty, 2015), win­ner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poet­ry Open Com­pe­ti­tion, In the Car­ni­val of Breath­ing (BLP, 2011), win­ner of the Black Riv­er Chap­book Com­pe­ti­tion, and Small Girl: Micromem­oirs (Har­bor Edi­tions, 2024). She is also the edi­tor of the grief anthol­o­gy, In the Tem­pered Dark: Con­tem­po­rary Poets Tran­scend­ing Ele­gy (BLP, 2024). She is an NEA Fel­low, Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Poet­ry & CNF in the Writer’s Work­shop at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Nebras­ka Oma­ha, and Chap­book Series Edi­tor at Black Lawrence Press.