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“Elements of Accounting” (2016), by Sandy Longhorn

Elements of Accounting


The girl born at the edge 
                  of a copper-colored river 
returns, prefers her wrists 
                  by swift currents 
rather than caution-stilled 
                                  by the many sister-gazes. 

The house she turns 
                                         her back on 
is a ledger, her mother 
                   the pencil and its precise 
                                                    figures that trap 
loss in columns. 
                                   Debt a whispered word, 
the harsh ring of a phone 
                                                   no one answers. 

The girl hoards pennies 
                  held back from the accounting, 
feels the pocket-weight 
                                   when she sneaks 
to the leafy riverbank and 

                   all her wishes watching 
the river wash 
                                   the grubby coins clean.

Sandy Longhorn reads “Elements of Accounting”

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Sandy Longhorn

Sandy Longhorn is the author of Blood Almanac, The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths, and The Alchemy of My Mortal Form. A recipient of the Porter Prize, Longhorn teaches for the Arkansas Writer’s MFA Workshop and in the Department of Writing at the University of Central Arkansas.