Ruth Foley


Give me your hand tonight,
your capable will improbably twinned

to mine. I think perhaps
I’ve always known to find you.

If there is a moon, try not to remember it
tomorrow—deny yourself

the comfortable reliance on sickled convention
when we are not

reliable. If I should lift my mouth
just this once

try to forgive me. Don’t look
to me for answers unless you’re willing

to abide your own reflection. I cannot hide
the way I see you now.

Instead, look up, count to ten.
Give me your hand

and nothing else of you. Look at all
our terrible stars and do not name them.



Whale Songs and Love Sounds

His ear against my breast, he says he hears
the sea. I list the things it’s taken, but he knows.

He hears, but I hold everything a shell does now:
nothing. I bend two spoons, begin to build the ellipsis

of a crab. They are empty, too, the bowls,
the cupboards and the drainboard, and they can go

to dust. I am thinking of how water layers paper,
how it can’t return to trunk or branch. I’m thinking

of another reclamation, cellulose in compost,
how worms through kitchen scraps sound

like nothing until you bend close. Maybe my chest
is teeming, writhing. He says wave and shore.

I say the wave is an illusion, taken up into itself
again and again, that shore or coast is a matter of

perspective. Both of us could swim through
the arteries of a blue whale. All our lovers

could fit on its tongue, sleep cold in the vault
of its mouth. It could be like us, I say, breaching

and easing, could be full of damp societies,
the low thrum of love calls or storm warnings


Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English at Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web and print journals, including Adroit Journal, Sou’wester, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. She is the author of the chapbooks “Dear Turquoise” and “Creature Feature,” and the full-length collection “Dead Man’s Float” (forthcoming from ELJ Publications). She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.