a contrapuntal after “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction” by Ursula K. Le Guin, 1986

you can explain

why it’s funny

it’s more of a feeling

a fish without eyes

you start giggling

before the punchline

knock knock

you try to keep still

but your laugh is a firework


in your full body

all the ways you type out

the sound of your cackle

the tidal rhythms of

an inside joke


your day softer now as

a nickname with a long story

have you heard the one about


or how times flies

louder than slapstick

or cherry tomatoes

a meme

from you


tapping out little hearts

talking with your hands

the punctuation of limbs

a wink and a nod

against a void


in the dark

who swoon with the same joy

catching your breath

let this be

the craft of life

to laugh so much

you become that sound

your every kiss

like a daffodil’s life-span sped-up

through the air

led by the sun’s compass

for another good morning

someone’s knuckles

against the back of your neck

as they braid your hair

to hold and be


is a human thing

XO at the end of your emails

in case you ever forget

each goodbye

between you and

the whole world

a jean jacket well-worn

by all your best friends

these public displays of affection

the clatter

as you share

an umbrella

the dance floor’s wide pulse

a basketball passed

to you

and thrown back

with a glance of fingers

surgery gloves blue in your chest

elbows linked in elbows

for a chain

against a drone

your people

on the subway

carrying a stroller upstairs


your root not

as a more perfect weapon but

steadying yourself on someone else

balance as they almost fall too

Rhiannon McGavin