Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer
FROM THE CABINET OF UNCONSCIOUSNESS (LESSER ANIMALS)
You come to a clearing A clearing is a place you enter into after having been lost within something like a hedge maze or a thicket or a forest of thought but before you’ve actually found your way out A clearing is not a way out In the clearing things you had lived without— direct sunlight sky rainclouds open air The thicket is around you but you photosynthesize automatically Animals appear spotlit like a parade— an elephant a Siberian tiger hippopotamus oryx zebra —but miniature like kittens And the clearing now so immensely vast All of these emerged from the thicket All of them were in there with you
STEPHANIE ELLIS SCHLAIFER is a poet and installation artist in St. Louis. She is the author of the poetry collection Cleavemark (BOAAT Press, 2016) and The Cloud Lasso (Penny Candy Books, 2019), her debut children's book. She has an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and her poems and art have appeared in AGNI, Best New Poets, Bomb Magazine, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Georgia Review, Harvard Review, LIT, The Offing, the Poetry Foundation site, and elsewhere. Recently she has collaborated on an installation with Cheryl Wassenaar called The Cabinet of Ordinary Affairs.