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

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*
*lightning bugs

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.”

5. November. “Fallopianode” by Racquel Malone

If I never have a daughter/ these child bearing hips will sink into old womanhood, maybe never missing what they never had

If she never shows up/ I won’t wallow neither will I rejoice/there is no real loss or gain

If I never have a daughter/the leaves will still fall every October and I will still drink warm whiskey in black tea and think of you

My own mother stands in front of me and doesn’t see me/only the brown infant she birthed in mid-July

and I may never know what she means by that

I may never honor my sister by giving my daughter her middle name

I may never understand labor pain

If I never have a daughter/I can never feel the trouble of her toothache or diaper rash

I can never be held liable for waiting too long to take her to the ER; I’ve enough guilt of my own

My niece will cry out for me and I will still turn away; still ill-equipped and on the run, unable to soothe her deeply

She will want for me to stay, to be around at bed time and all I can offer is cheap sweets and weak promises

Tomorrow, next winter, soon/ Like the Easter bunny or Claus/ I am reliable but unnecessary

If I never have a daughter/ my belly will grow fat, not from housing new life, but from carbohydrates and Chinese food

The moon will continue to guide me through life/ I’ll be forever in its lunar prowess/ daughter or not, I’m woman still

Winters from now when the air is dry and grey/I’ll hum a daughter-less tune and wait for all my ghosts to come out and dance

4. October. “Execution Points” by Emily Parenti

On summer Saturdays it was grass gymnastics—

routines on pretend apparatus,

flips without a spring floor.

It hurt pounding prepubescent ankles and wrists

into unforgiving dirt without plushy mat cushion,

but this was the sweet spot between character and penance,

and there was instinct even then to focus training there.

I had makeshift drills:

dive-roll over lawn chairs or table-topped sisters,

cartwheel over jump ropes held a few feet off the ground.

But it was hard to get amplitude,

as the judges would call it.

I couldn’t elevate off backyard soil.

Coaches told me “mind over matter,” so I pretended

my sore foot made me Kerri Strug

and the wind-waving skin on our corner birch

was the encouraging hand of a Karolyi.

I told myself just one spotless handspring

and you’ll wear the laurels like Carly in Athens.

But I stayed heavy and clumsy until I abandoned my Olympians

and refigured myself as a Jesse White Tumbler.

I’d adjust my white suspenders on an all red outfit,

lug thin panel mats into the center lane of a stopped parade.

I’d run through warm-up sequences with my teammates

and give no thought to form.

Our handstands were bent-kneed and arch-backed,

no shoulder stretch or tucked-in chin.

But when it came time for the difficult skills,

we erupted without effort.

Saltos suspended for three mississippis;

four-trick passes stretched to six or seven.

Unlike the chalk-covered leotard-wearer

who gets height with hard arm swings toward the rafters,

with grimaces and repetitions,

with tight, hollow-bodied, upward shoves,

we lift simply from the chest.

We initiate flips with our sternums,

which cannot squeeze or strain.

We will our centers into the sky with inevitable velocity—

aortas magnetized to the tops of skyscrapers,

ribcages buoyed on Chicago smog.

And with all that energy concentrated at the heart,

our faces have no choice but to stay calm,

our limbs no choice but to swing light.

We float easy above our families and futures,

suspend over dirty cement.

And when we land we’re not judged but applauded

by kids on the curb with sticky hands

and melted chocolate on their shirts

and not even a faint awareness

of deduction or injury.

3. September. “Packrats” by Lisa Torem

Of course I buried my Alice Cooper chewing gum wrapper collection in a James Dean lunch box I fever pitch bargained for in Wicker Park.

“You don’t need this, do you?”

He cupped the flimsy papers in his sweaty fist and headed towards the dumpster.


I pressed a frozen pigeon feather abandoned on Foster Beach between the pages of my mum’s yearbook photographs,

And plastered the spine with burlap-sack ribbons.

Beneath the late night circles of her sea-green eyes, I glue-stuck shards of Venetian glass from my great-aunt’s bargain basement lava lamp.

“Why can’t you save the world?” he cursed, narrowing his charcoal eye-slits. “Packrat!”

I scribble-scrawled his name with burning coals over sidewalk-chalked cement, scraping his initials with baby sister’s paper clip chains.

Pitch what I crave? Packrat. Destroy what I long for? Packrat. Torch my bedrock resolutions?


That first wisp of snowy hair?

My milk-stained serape?

Our Polaroid romance?


Open your soda with this rusty knife.
Carve our cake with this jigsaw splice.
No one died from a messy life.
Save something
that brings us back.

That brings

us back.