I’m a very detached kind of lover. 

Not in terms of depth— I adore people profoundly, endlessly, completely—

but in a language foreign to others. I’ll write you snail mail love letters 

and send you five dollars to pick up coffee on your way to work 

and only speak highly of you to my mother. 

I’ll leave you flowers on your birthday and memorize the specifics

of you—your cell phone number and home address and food allergies

and whether or not you’re the hugging type. 

I’m a people person but not in the way you might think. 

I don’t need to sit next to you or drink with you or speak to you every day, 

and sometimes my deepest relationships are once-in-a-blue-moon correspondences, 

pick-me-ups, thinking-of-yous. I only talk to some of my favorite souls once a year. 

There are times I wish I could love in a more physical, less conceptual manner. 

That I could mindlessly enjoy company, that constancy didn’t terrify me. 

But I’m learning to love the way that I love. 

In playlists and poems and how I will always pay attention

to the way that you move, every flutter, every blink, every silly snort of laughter.

I’ll notice every subtlety.


Pathetically depleted, I wallow in my flesh and dream

of a particular kind of freedom. The painless, childish

sort, like when you’re seven and your whole life orbits

around the geometric dome at your elementary school

playground and trading juice boxes for scented erasers.

Holding twenty years in your hands is a great ordeal,

heavier than expected, unlike the gala apples you’d pack

for field trips and forget in the tall grass for picnic ants 

to call their own. At seven you don’t think much about

pain or the body or what is written in the stars for you.

You just know you like to run, and then you skin your

knee and train yourself to avoid that particular sidewalk 

crack forever after, and the only stars you care about 

are the ones that twinkle extra hard on your birthday, 

and the ones on movie screens, and the ones in your eyes 

when you think about how wild and limitless the world

is, the entire sphere inhaling and exhaling just for you.


Safe things— Mitski on my record player, my mother’s thin fingers
French braiding my hair, bananas that are just ripe enough— I hold
onto these safe things as I let my life unravel in my hands. Today
I feel a little bit better than yesterday. I’ll take that, I tell the sky,
as I remind my body to inhale without thinking too deeply about
how. I’m tired of thinking about illness and death and why my chest
hurts all the time. I’m sick of making myself sick. And so I clutch
these harmless, healthy things with every gram of strength I have.
Outside my house right now, someone is shooting a gun. Ever so
often, my mother and I jump. But it’s nothing, it’s nothing, and
she finishes the braid and we’re humming, we’re humming, and
I’m still alive in a room that loves me, and no part of me is dead.


My first smile made its grand debut
at 7 p.m. this evening. It only took
my mother’s hand squeezing mine
and my father returning from the
grocery with a bouquet of yellow
sunflowers. I have sobbed my way
through this day for no real reason
other than my own fear of nothing.
I have convinced myself I am folding
inward, that my body has reached
its final hour, that I will buckle
until I am spent. This is no poem.
This is the heart of a sick girl,
nauseated and sinking in horror.


English bulldogs and breakfast and accents.

I am living in fear. I can’t stop clenching
my jaw. I want to go home, but I already am.

Sugar maples and gliders and cookies.

These are the little, lovely things I dream up
when my heart convinces me it is dying.

Blue eyes and velvet and mountains.

I can’t stop thinking. I see the end flickering
and I walk closer, closer, until I am gone.

I Really Only Miss You When It Rains

Cloudless skies sedate me, numbing me over until I am transparent, mechanical.
Under soft sunshine, wrapped in velvet warmth, these days I hardly think of you
when all of my body’s vacancies are filled with light. When it pours, though,
I can feel again, the sharp pangs and weights, this cavernous ache I can’t place.

I really only miss you when it rains. In my memories you are soaked from head
to toe and we are sick with love. Water has seeped through your coat and I am
tickled pink by your shivering, teasing you until we’re home and I can dry you
with my mouth. Always a failure. We had a love like that, the dripping kind,

flooding every secret part of us, no possible way to absorb enough of each other.
I’d wipe your back and kiss it long enough to defeat the point. I’d melt you under
the heat of me, saturating you like baptism, bathing you in much more than rain.
There was nothing profane in those sacred instances of give and take. Others may

have deemed it vulgar, or shameful, or unholy— but I would do it again, the rage
of being young and on fire, breath calling and responding, becoming the storm.

We were the flood. I can only listen now, and from this bed the sky weeps with me.


I can’t marry a white picket fence. It’s not in my nature,
to keep the roses blushing, the house tidy enough for
the neighbors to ooh and ahh, not a stray weed in sight.

I’m not a good person. Well, scratch that– maybe I am,
just not in your way. You like to sit in the front pew
at church. I like looking out the window, questioning

the essence of God, whether he really is the white man
on the laminated prayer cards they give away at funerals.
You’ve never wanted to die. I’ve watched my ending play

too many times to stay for the actual credits. Bathtub.
Car fire. Even my own mind, hand trembling in horror.
You like roses. They’ve always reminded me of eternal rest.

I am the stray weed, the fire, the skeptic, and the movie.
But I’d marry you, not for the fence, but because of how
I don’t want to die when I’m with you. I want to live.

I Talk to No One Else

Listless and unromantic, I wallow

to the skipping of rain on my roof.

Bedroom walls make alright lovers

when no one else is around to fill

these echoing caverns of silence.

I’m tired, I whisper to nothing,

and not in the way you think.

Tired like it’s the wet season

in my hometown, and I miss

your baby hairs and peach fuzz

and the whole anatomy of you, more there than my own skin.


My heart is a clenched fist
and it lives in my stomach.
In its grip dwells the scent
of green apple shampoo
from damp brown hair.
Other things, too, like
the golden halo circling
your cobalt iris, Jupiter’s
fifth ring. There is also
the soft chip in your cry,
the crack that breaks me.
I hold all of these trifling
nothings between palms
like gospel. I am devoted
to keeping them under
lock and key. Consider
this a love letter to all
the cryptic parts of you
unknown to every soul
but mine. No one else
knows you hate winter
and cherry tomatoes
and that you grew up
restricted from crying
because boys cannot,
not strong ones. But
I think you’re strong
and my grip on you
is even stronger—
sweet dove, let me
safekeep each piece
of you. I will not
let your tears spill
through my hands.

They Say Every Exit is an Entrance

but what happens when the knob won’t turn?

When your knuckles ripen to an unpoetic fuchsia,

no tenor of hurried footsteps approaching to let you in?

Do you camp out on the porch? Do you kick through the door?

Or do you wriggle through the window, into the uninviting home,

and make yourself comfortable— recline the sofa, surf through the channels,

wait for them to find you? I am trying to become the kind of person

who decides, head in her hands, to just go home and make

some tea. Run a bath. Turn on the radio— or not. 

If every exit is an entrance but I am not 

welcome, I will sit in my silences,

waiting for nothing other

than another door

to open.