Plain China

Split Linen

by Luke Patterson · University of Houston · Poetry Prize Winner
Reckoner, Raghda Maaliki · Rhode Island School of Design

The rip in my sheet grew until it stretched the length of the bed;
its edges curled back, spreading in the middle to reveal stained mattress.


A twenty-six-year-old male was eviscerated during a robbery;
I took pictures with my phone of the wide laceration, the looped intestine.


You say that you won’t spend the night until I get new sheets,
and leave after sex. I sleep between the folds of split linen.


I spent last winter backpacking in east Texas, close to the border
where stars burned in the cold air, untouched by light pollution.


I remember how the long and beautiful gash of the Milky Way cut through the sky—
I wanted to push my fingers into it, widen the wound, reveal its secrets.

About the Author

Luke Patterson · University of Houston

Luke Patterson is a student and EMT residing in Houston. His poetry has appeared in the University of Houston’s Glass Mountain (in which this poem first appeared), the Lascoux Review, and elsewhere. 

About the Artist

Raghda Maaliki · Rhode Island School of Design

Raghda Maaliki is a junior studying furniture design at the RISD. She is also interested in architecture and the fine arts. Her artwork was first published in the Brown/RISD literary arts journal, Clerestory.