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"The Dress Looks Nice on You" • Sufjan Stevens (by Ashley Kirkland)

A large swan skims the surface of a pond outside Piqua when we take a raft out to the center to take samples of the dirt at the bottom. It’s that early fall kind of chill out. We’re in Geography 400-something and I can’t get enough of your loose, khaki pants and boots.

We establish anchorage in the center of the pond, and the professor makes us paddle him out.

We set the spring-loaded tube that will pull the sample from the mud, and most of the time

I’m thinking of what to say to you, fumbling with the spring. It takes forever to figure it out.

Pretty cool, huh? and you look at me like I was just crawling along the bottom, dredged from the depths of the pond. Maybe I was. Maybe I was waiting here all along to be pulled out.

If Michigan is like a hand, then Ohio is like a heart, pulsing within itself, us, the ponds, the swans, the ghosts. The beat inside us all. What else is left to figure out?

Remember the record store? That floral dress? So perfect among the worn album edges. I walked up behind you in the crowd and, in your ear, like a heartbeat, spilled everything out.

Quoting my favorite movie, said you gotta hear this one song, it’ll change your life I swear. The swan. My hand. Your hip. The mist rising off the pond when we took the raft out.

I see you in a wedding dress and think what a funny thing it would be to say. It would be as if it were any other dress on any other occasion, like I’m just picking you up to take you out.

Come on, Sufjan! We can think of something better than this. Try: gorgeous. Try: perfect. Try: that’s it! Try: wedding dress! Anything to keep it together as we grab the rings and head


Ashley Kirkland writes in Ohio where she lives with her husband and sons. Her work can be found in 805 Lit + Art, Cordella Press, 3 Elements Literary Review, Boats Against the Current, The Citron Review, Naugatuck River Review, among others. Her chapbook, BRUISED MOTHER, is forthcoming from Boats Against the Current.


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