Sophie Grimes

Two poems from Sophie Grimes’s The Shape of Time

followed by a note on the author

Interior / Exterior

Excretions, oils, musks of
living through time, the neckline
of the sleep shirt, the upper
sleeves a kind of vellum, yellow,
the pillowcase is skin, the towel,
pulled off the hook in the heat
the same temperature as the body.
Name a white that stays. Teeth,
polar bears, sheets, see?
You can’t, there isn’t.
painters know the bone is blue,
the moon, lemon. The mind knows
to take shortcuts, like a children’s book.
Milk, moo. Train, choo, sneeze, bless-you,
but it doesn’t know how to shut up.

A co-worker said once her baby was born,
she never got a full night of sleep ever again.
She said this to me and made it fact, cursed me,
experience passed like a cloned object that she both
kept and gave. The child naps long and soft,
deep, warm. I can’t help feeling he has taken this
from me as he took so many other things
that cannot be cloned, on his emergence
into the world. So in this way birth is the partial loss
of the woman. There was a river only.
She was the river and the water.
Then there was a boat. The baby is the boat.
Or is in the boat. Either way works
in this particular metaphor.




The eye, obviously, washed out hazel
yellowing around the pupil like a stain
and outside the iris, rheumy blue-whites,
phlegm that blink-scratches, pink-twinge
like certain pieces in raw eggs.

The mind next, whirring, autonomous
ghost companion weaving its own
seething opinions, your larvae-
filled flies beating against
this porch-screen of a partner.

Then time. Seeing the Welsh mountains
with the then eyes, Beckett wrote in a letter.
The color of the peak changes, the shape informed
by the bundle of experience accumulated,
how depleted the reservoir of joy.

The tyranny of time and treacherous present,
an amusement park ride where the room spins
and everyone is trapped against the walls
and the floor drops out. Every moment
a new-spun cocoon of context, pulsing

soft white oblongs inserted into a river.
What is the river? Something
structurally consistent but not the same.
Examples: Cities. Sex. Sunset.
And words. But you know this.

Said so many times before in so many forms
we come up short even as we crowd source.
We can speak without thinking, and we do
until hoarse, idea and action triggering an automatic
word equivalent to narrate our limited lives.

But what of that which can’t be said?
The germ, raw rice deep inside something,
a factory on the outskirts of a city
only you know filled with dirty chickens
in cages laying white, bright eggs.



Sophie Grimes holds an MFA in Poetry from Boston University where she worked with Louise Glück and Robert Pinsky. Her poems have been published in various literary magazines including Spoon River Poetry Review, The Literary Review, and AGNIonline, and her manuscript was a 2018 finalist for the New Issues Poetry Prize. She is the author of two chapbooks: Waiting for the Exterminator and City Structures. Sophie lives in Chicago with her husband and son where she writes poetry reviews for Publishers Weekly and works for an early childhood care and education advocacy organization. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and East Asian Studies from Oberlin College.