LAUREN McKENZIE REED
WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE KNOWN
i Magazine 1 Slide 20
Henry loves his automatic –
always Bernadette, left a little.
I want you in the foreground.
The locals must laugh at us but
I love the way I look in slides
so small and abroad.
My hair’s a bit windblown but
I’m in my blue dress with tiny floral printing.
I feel most immense in a little moment;
there’s an exaltation of nuthatch behind the statue
and they’re soaring. It is the summer.
(A group of frogs is called an army.
I think only larks exalt.)
I imagine their nests tucked away nearby
beyond a neat mud wall. Eggs laid,
white speckled with red. All I remember now is
tui-tui-tui so repeated.
The average human body weighs nine pounds
when cremated. I wonder if that’s
the weight of everything without water.
I like the way old technology smells:
the slide machine on the bedroom dresser,
the slides carefully organized in magazines.
Norway 1, 2, 3 are waiting.
They weigh much more than nine;
I imagine there’s a million lives
tucked amongst the dust here.
Living is hard: we lose half a liter of water
a day, just through breathing.
Sometimes everything is against you.
Sometimes I miss Oslo,
so many cranes tucked in with skyline.
Tell her it’s no; blue jays can’t see blue.
This is about the place where the skin stops,
the verge of inside visible.
People are incredible, one even said:
creating an embryo only to dismantle it
is something else entirely.
Humans are responsible; we are all at threat.
We’re merely a floccule now.
We have rarely been sentimental in the past;
maybe we don’t need birds.
Fjords are selfish in their deepness.
I know there is a problem.
I knew that without knowing it.
i Magazine 2 Slide 24
Aboard the ship Henry would joke
I’m a fish out of water.
I’d say our cruise ship isn’t much advanced.
He snapped a shot as if
I were the captain,
my grey dress giving me away.
I drop ore in the donation box
and think of the least shrew,
some mammal out there
light and untrappable.
We sat for a while at the Vikingskipshuset;
who wouldn’t be amazed?
I know the names of these places.
I’ve read about them and want so badly
to narrate: this is the Maritime Museum.
This one houses 9th century vessels.
This must be some whispering gallery.
There’s only you and I here,
and we both already know.
We know Viking ships were sturdy
since some are still here.
You should visit the Kon-Tiki.
It sailed 101 days over 43 hundred miles of Pacific
just to prove it could.
Knot means nautical mile means
we can’t always trust the distance.
Each artifact is a stolen memory.
Each bench a voyage too.
i Magazine 3 Slide 26
In Bergen we met a fisherman.
The waterside market was bustling,
I only recall flashes:
a canvas bike tire bag,
those haphazardly stacked crates,
his deep reverberating laughter
(he held up the biggest mackerel
and told me about catching them),
yellow pail, his slicker,
the scent of gutted fish so strong
it clung to me all afternoon.
Henry offered him money for his cap
but he claimed to have caught it
with a pole on the way in
eight years back. Said it was good
or bad luck; either way we ought not tempt
the fate that brought it to him.
I let out an ooooo
before I can catch myself.
It’s not like every image isn’t gorgeous –
it’s just that water, water, road and then
market is a shock.
I switched the Revere de Luxe to manual.
I stared at her a while.
It’s sixty Fahrenheit today in Oslo.
Warm is relative.
No one seems to realize it is cold
when I am freezing.
I don’t wear a coat to fit in.
I still look like a tourist.
The market tricks me into feeling present:
I am a resident here; I am purchasing food to cook.
It takes two eggs to make cinnamon bread.
One to bake a mackerel.
Someone must be watching me, must notice.
(I take it back; I need birds.)
If I ignore the cranes long enough
they disappear into that line
where the surface of the earth and sky appear to meet.
That line is defined by a real or imaginary
I am seeing it from three.
Lauren McKenzie Reed received her MFA in Creative Writing from West Virginia University, where she taught for six years. She also has a MA in TESOL and, in addition to teaching and publishing, Reed has studied and worked in several countries, including Mali, Germany, Ukraine, China, Hong Kong, and Australia.