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February 21, 2020 Poetry

two poems

Lucy Rosenthal

two poems photo

Power Lines

Spring was coming to its sap-sticky end when
you were telling me something about how they carve out
tree branches to make room for power lines.

You were moving out of your house and I was thinking up all the ways
I could try to make you sick with missing me.
I was stupid from the humidity, stumbling bleary-eyed
across your cool tile floor, aching for a sip of water.

I wanted to live inside your loud-ass laundry machines.
To be a dust mite, to live inside your mattress, to make you sneeze.
you hid me away like the stains on your fitted sheet.
I listened to you tell stories of your old lovers
who read Vonnegut and Forster and danced in bars
and dropped acid with you and traveled the world.

I sat up all night with stomachaches thinking about them,
but it didn’t make me love you any less.
Wring me and hang me out to dry, I swear to god
no matter what you do to me
it won’t make me love you any less.

When summer came, you started sending me voicemails
from the orchard during your lunch breaks
while I was at work in the city.
You were feasting on wet, overripe plum
while I listened; gripping the dirty subway pole,
quaking with the sticky-sweet
nagging sensation of knowing too much.

What to do, now, with all this rotten fruit?
What to do when I no longer excite you?
When you dig your teeth into skin
because you want to taste the sweetness,
but you recoil in disgust
when you discover the pit inside?


I remember last winter when they found out Pluto looked like a mushroom cap.

When the snow melted, I remember roaming the woods,
stepping on mushrooms to make more of them appear.

My father always said it like a warning: “if you kill one, more will grow back,”
like pulling gray hairs out from an aging scalp,
not knowing that his omen was exactly the point.

I can only grow things out of death.
The only seeds I ever committed to the dirt barely even grew—
they withered away to nothing within weeks.

When spring came, I was wilting like a dead sapling in your arms.
maybe I would have even let you see me cry.

But instead we smiled at the mushroom caps—
solar systems spanning the forest.
We ran around with powdered Pluto on the insides of our lips
knowing we could pull the most beautiful things from outer space
and put them in our bodies.
Bruises erupted like emission nebulae on my knees and elbows,
your neck and shoulders.

If I were younger I would be plucking daisy petals for you,
imagining Pluto like a mound of purple clay,
not knowing that space is cold and silent.

But now I know where stars go when they die,
and instead of picking daisies I plant roses under your skin.
I paint you like a canvas, only for the buds to shrivel and collapse
shortly after breaking through the surface of your earth.


image: Aaron Burch