Little Soul Remembers
before coltish legs outgrew their swiftness and supple lines
before the body lost communion with beast and tree, wind and nightfall, first snow
and the smell of thawing soil—the body weightless, easy to forget—
before some parts began to protrude or sprout hair, the legs thickening to carry them
before seeing the flaws others might find in the relentless body
before others told the body what it was good for and what it wasn’t
before the fluids, new smells, inchoate yearnings, brush of fingers
before biology and sometimes the Bible
before courtship and its consequence
before the swoon, the shroud, the dazzled senses dimming
the body welcomed and was welcomed—taking scant space, skimming
rooftops and yards, a world laid out for the taking.
Leslie Ullman is the author of five poetry books, most recently The You That All Along Has Housed You (Nine Mile Press, 2019) and a hybrid book of craft essays and writing exercises, Library of Small Happiness (3:TaosPress, 2017). Two more poetry collections will be published by in 2023 and 2024, respectively by 3:TaosPress and University of New Mexico Press. She is on the poetry faculty in the low-residency MFA Program at Vermont College of the Fine Arts, and is professor emerita at University of Texas-El Paso. Awards include the Yale Series of Younger Poets, the Iowa Poetry Prize, and two NEA Fellowships. She lives in Taos, New Mexico.