the flowers you bring me always bloom red, attracting monarch larvae. i keep them in mason jars, wait for glittering wings, for semicolons to burst into the light of exclamation.
but the game of memory requires new tiles; the matches are left unmatched. your oaths lift over the vanishing earth; they flit in the wind for someone else's comfort.
i've misinterpreted the ocean's debris as a holy text, the undertow as gospel. words that stop just short of language require an exile all their own.
The area under the eyes where fear and fatigue dangle and dance in lilac shades sheltered and sunk, you wait for me, curled, as lids above close like coffins.
She Who Never Presented Herself Even When Present
The saplings tell her story, now that my tongue's in another mouth. The mulch can't keep them from sprouting through my two-chambered heart.
All these years, and this is what I remember: Her perpetually unloading the dishwasher, toothpick arms trembling from night terrors by day, her body a collapsing paper lantern of wiry limbs hunched over the racks, confessing to each spotless glass: Forgive me for the blood that weeps from my hands.
But red was all I knew of climate, all that seasoned my food since she carved my face through each of her palms the day I was placed, still warm, in her arms.
-- Amy Strauss Friedman is the author of the chapbook Gathered Bones Are Known To Wander (forthcoming from Red Bird Chapbooks). She is a regular contributor to the newspaper Newcity, and a staff writer for Yellow Chair Review. Her poetry has appeared in Lunch Ticket, Burningword, Typehouse, *82 Review, Menacing Hedge and elsewhere. Amy lives in Chicago and teaches English at Harper College. Find her online at amystraussfriedman.com