Iris McCloughan

In that place he was

like a god, meaning higher


than everything. Almost always

on a ladder he stood


quickly leafing through

books in search of something.


I used the rustling to locate 

him, my tray weighed down


with milk in a silver ewer,

a bowl for washing the eager


ink from the pads

of his fingers. I looked up


at him the way one might

a god, meaning reverently,


and with no small hope

of punishment, no matter how


unspoken. He looked up

from his reading, down


at me, and gave a nod

which meant permission


to return to our large desk 

at the center of the library


and overfill myself


with the milk, which was 

warm, which was kindness.


Found In Volume 44, No. 02
Read Issue
  • iris
Iris McCloughan
About the Author

Iris McCloughan is a trans* artist, performer, and writer. Their performance work has been presented in NYC (JACK, CATCH series, Ars Nova), Philadelphia (Institute of Contemporary Art, The Barnes Foundation / Philadelphia Contemporary, FringeArts, Vox Populi), Chicago (Links Hall), Los Angeles (PURE O) and elsewhere. Iris was the winner of the 2018 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from the American Poetry Review. Their chapbook No Harbor was the winner of the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Chapbook Series, administered by L+ S Press.