Redefining north.

The Lost Boy by Kathryn Merwin

The Lost Boy by Kathryn Merwin


Incoming managing editor Randi Clemens on today’s bonus poem: Kathryn Merwin’s “The Lost Boy” takes readers across landscapes and through loss. This poem returns again and again to place and its emotional resonance in the body. Feel the sand, the dirt, the knife in hand along with the speaker as Merwin highlights loss through the tactile and the visceral.

The Lost Boy

You only visit sadness: this is my homeland. Mother tongue of my mother and her mother. My mother threw me down the stairs and I landed on all fours.

You were in the rain-warm grass somewhere out west, deep breathing. Did you sleep indoors last night while I drank myself into the curve of your mattress? The rot in you is singing to the rot in me.

We were here once (48.7519° N, 122.4787° W): my back to the cold shock of the dryer, you biting pentacles into the whisper of my lip. This is where you sort my lights and darks.

We were here once, in the leak of a blood moon — lunar bodies logged with the Atlantic and Wyoming sand. Tongue pink coals soaking Modelo and June light into soil. Yellowstone. Painted Hills. This loss didn't call ahead to tell us it was coming. 

I've been sleeping in every color of dirt; I can't remember which parts of me are not fauna. I've been dreaming about skinning the apple in your throat.

Kathryn Merwin’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Cutbank, Hayden's Ferry Review, diode, Sugar House Review, Prairie Schooner, and Blackbird. She has read and/or reviewed for the Bellingham Review and The Adroit Journal, and serves as co-editor-in-chief of Milk Journal. She holds an MFA in poetry from Western Washington University and currently lives in the District of Columbia. Connect with her at

Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize winner and finalists announced!

Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize winner and finalists announced!