in vitro

Lauren Leslie




Think about bones as tinder.

Eventually they’ll splinter; if you flake

them small enough you could spray

the air with powder. Powder catches,

even if it’s flour. Even if it’s talc. It took

a while to discover that here—flame

was foreign and all we had to burn

was sugar. But even sugar flares

with enough provocation. Its fuse

runs fast enough for anyone.



Benchpress the planets up, the moon

and sun to the left, and etherize

the space between. Set a breeze

in the center and stand in it,

mouth open, ears blowing like

a basset hound. In case you

were wondering, we’re all inside

you all the time encouraging

absurdity, absurd amounts of it.

Dash it on like Tabasco, enough

to flavor the eggs red.

We invented the giraffe—you

only took the credit.



Smile. We’ll pitch lawn darts

at the corners until you remember

to stop. Demonology seems

unnecessary—we’re here.

We’re just like you. We’ll

perform the quick-summoned wind,

the perfect pitch without a

jaw harp. Or we won’t. We

are still not sure it matters.



Clarity, for the moment

it comes, always comes from us, the copse

of us, round and white like birch slices

and rattling around like cardboard

coins in a tiny cotton purse.

You could spin us on your table. You

could spin us through a syringe,

an inoculation, a suspension.

If anything at all, you are the thing

we’ve donned; our turtleneck,

our wool coat, our overly warm

down jacket. You’re only suitable

in January, and only sometimes then.

So pray for the snow to stick.




Lauren Leslie spent her adolescence on a microfarm in the Alaskan woods. She lives in Montana, where she now teaches, writes, and visits parts west. She earned her MFA from The University of Montana in 2009.