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Lost in Waukesha

February 25, 2009

Like a flock of confused birds,
Thigh finds herself running head
long into the dark, the sky a shawl
of witches, caught in this spell
of minutes repeating, corners
without edges or names,
street lights blown out, the wind
like an unnamed thought.
Even the bright seeds of stars
are planted deep tonight;
this is how it feels to be planted
deep, buried alive.
The path once seemed so clear
the shuffle of her feet, shift of hip
clutch   brake  shift  clutch
to get a grip, to remember this
is only a temporary loss in the suburbs,
this is not the detour of her life.

by Karla Huston and Cathryn Cofell

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Process notes

This poem was inspired literally by getting lost in Waukesha, Wisconsin, a city with which we were unfamiliar. Trying to drive home after a late-night poetry reading, we were hopelessly turned around and not for the first time. One of us made a joke about writing a poem in which our Thigh character was also lost, when we arrived home (finally), one of us took up the charge by writing the first couple of lines. Since we’d often used Exquisite Corpse to collaborate, we wrote two lines each back and forth by email (with the first line xxx’d out) until we agreed upon a line count and an ending. This one came out with few changes — pretty amazing!

For general notes on their collaborative process, see Miracle Fish. —Eds.