All in by Shannon K. Winston

by Shannon K. Winston

Girl Carrying Bull, by Vladimir Fokanov


I carry the bull on my shoulders.
Some days the weight is impossible:

its skull bores into my collar,
sweat pools under my arms,

and trickles around my breasts.
This is the price I pay for being

headstrong and outspoken.
My first words: not yes or please,

but no, my way, never.
I want, I want…

Other days, delight burns
in my legs, my arms ache

as I hoist this beast through
the void, across rivers

and sandbars, over snowcapped
mountains, and through galaxies.

My muscles, its muscles
burdened and buoyed by gravity.

And always the trembling
of my body,

its body, our bodies
on the brink—

I sigh, it grunts.
I smile, it breathes.

Only when we reach a clearing,
do we turn to one another

in some gesture of self-recognition,
do I dare whisper:

Yes, sweet lovely creature
we will make it though.


Shannon K. Winston’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Dialogist, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and The Los Angeles Review, among others. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and several times for the Best of the Net. She earned her MFA at Warren Wilson College and currently teaches in Princeton University’s Writing Program.