12. June. “How to Drape a Sari” by Harnidh Kaur

Tie together loops around your
waist, tight enough to bite into
your soft belly (a little reminder
of the diet you’re on, the thirteenth
this year), tuck in one layer of
silky crepe in, pressing down
each inch with the same force you
use to dig your nails into your
palms every time you’re told to
keep shut, start folding accordion
folds, each as wide as half a
handspan, the smaller, the better-
just like you, creased into yourself
because taking space looks unkempt,
and rude- start wrapping the
shaded purple leaves onto your
body, each overlap covering up
the anger you carefully pin to
you chest, diagonally to where you
lungs lie, each breath a reminder to
keep quiet, keep calm, keep still,
culminating in a half-mast flag
fluttering down your back, caressing
your tailbone as you walk tall,
accepting compliments for your
cultured values, agility

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11. May. “Lampyridae” by Kelsey Hoff

Your eyes make me feel trapped inside myself.
Alone in my bed, I could move my feet
and make static sparks* appear
like asterisks
I could remember all the different kinds of sparks*
bonfires
*lightning bugs
brakes

With you, there is one steady candle flame
burning like a yellow moon—
this is a constant reminder
of all the things I’ve read about intimacy*
This is highlighter yellow

and I want to be like a cloud of fireflies,
a trick of the light*
the way they disappear and reappear but never totally vanish.
A memory* glimmering in the purple dusk.

*Fireflies are constantly being sucked through
wormholes of peaceful night air.
What I mean to say is they teleport*
like footnotes
like hyperlinks
I can remember all the places to hide.
I had a night light
and glow-in-the-dark stars
I used to be afraid of things in the dark
and now I’m afraid* I am one of them
The *trick of the light is that you can’t use it to see
and still keep your hiding place*

like a blinking cursor
I want to be a beautiful possibility*
but I also kind of want to disappear,
energy* vacillating in between
created and destroyed.

10. April. “Cables” by Caroline Knickmeier

my first real hippies
I agreed minus the drugs
they’d lived on a commune
high in the mountains
where years later I caught trout
a professor’s social experiment

her hand went up and down like a ‘coaster
she said their relationship had been like that
she said life was like that
she made huckleberry pancakes
and scared the black bear out of the garden

he took me to the lake
he wrote songs for me
he gutted fish for me
I thought he meant every word he said

she was better than jumper cables
he said, for a bed companion
what I’d always feared, here’s proof
that he wanted to marry, not just me

2000 miles away
as the light across the parking lot fades
in long orange rectangles
the power line catches and gleams
beauty that provides
understanding her hand will rise

9. March. “Cancer Baby Girl” by Ruby Figueroa

Of course I’m going to fact check you on everything. I’m gonna ask for receipts. I’m gonna shoot you a cross look from across the room when I see you acting different in front of other people. I’m going to tell you the same story over and over again until your laughs become a part of it so we tell it like a play we are rehearsing.

I’m going to remember every single thing you have ever said to me- the good and I’ll hold on tight to the bad. I’m going to turn everything you’ve said into poetry and mix those words into my morning coffee when I’m thinking about that night from 3 days ago. I’m going to build a strong relationship with you, make you feel like you couldn’t live without me.

But you will live without me. You’ll find something with someone else that won’t challenge you as much as I did. I’ll find something somewhere else too. But one day, I’ll be sitting around making up scenes of you and that person. In my head, you’ll go get an iced tea from the gas station and you’ll bend over to tie your shoe and you’ll crack a huge smile and laugh about something I said ages ago. Then I’ll smile too.

7. January. “A Hug from a Large Man for a Long Time, part VI” by Amanda Beekhuizen

The soil is wet and dark, fecund and nutritious, richly filled with rocks and worms. The soil cannot be contained. It stains the white cover, stains; the smallest particles of dirt move through the fabric’s weave, from inside to outside.

I lay beneath it, roll and wrap myself, feel its weight press around me.

I am a burrito, a swaddled baby, a child’s arm trapped within an inflated plastic water wing. The tip of a straw between lips. All the things we found buried in the backyard when we dug it up to build a French drain: a homemade dice, a rooster pin, a glass bottle of cherry coke from the early nineties. A rock at the bottom of a pool, a hug from a large man for a long time. A hug from a large man for a long time.

6. December. “The Dragon Imelda” by Cecilia Pinto

 

Jacob had lived so long in the darkness with the Dragon Imelda that he thought nothing of the slightly sulfurous, fishy scent that accompanied her.

This was a home he accepted as he accepted the drip, drip, drip of distant water and the gentle drift of filtered light from somewhere far above.

His days were spent in pursuit of his studies. He was a maker of maps, routes of travel, measuring the darkness, the distance between here and there. Although he didn’t know where there was, and he didn’t yet know why he needed to know how to go.

When Jacob was a child, the Dragon Imelda began bedtime stories with, “Once upon a time, a lost prince…”

One night he asked, “Am I the prince?”

“You are the treasure,” she said.

He leaned his warm forehead against her cool, gray shoulder and with his finger traced a winding path along her varied scales.

Bending towards him she said, “You are my treasure, to protect and keep safe.”

“In the story,” he asked, “do I die?” He could feel her hot breath on his neck.

“No,” she said, “I do.”