an open letter to the barren streets of gloucester

for many years i chatted with the windowsills

and the trees, their heartwood 

and i wanted to be like that, not some druxied girlhood.

not some half - girl, made of skeins 

part - misery too ancient to name. 

you said you wanted to know things i never told you. 

in kindergarten 

i cut my bangs with scissors, and hid a grape in the corner 

to watch it ripen. i’m not lying, i’m really not.

i once grew five inches in one year 

and tricked my mom into thinking i ate all my sausage when i really just threw it on the floor.

my grandfather gave me a gummy bear everyday. 

i didn’t have to do anything, just see him

trapped in his room, penn state droning in the background

and my mom tells me now he was sweet only to me. 

i haven’t seen him in years

except for a dream in a purple room; we played solitaire, and he had legs, 

his hat crooked back, and he was grinning, then he floated away in philadelphia and

my mom said it was my goodbye, and i haven’t seen him since. 


i woke up one morning to my weeping mom and aunt, and she took me into her arms (i was too young to dissolve myself when i was touched,

like some nation you’d do away with) 

and said “poppy went to heaven” 

and that’s all i needed to know. 


in reality i don’t remember half of these things . 

it’s difficult to tell you things that were apart of my childhood.

they trickle back slowly, taking tentative steps. 

i remember rescuing maui.

she was born under the stairs of our porch.

a small little thing, trembling,

a bundle of fur with sad eyes,

and i recognized the abandonment that shrivelled her 

little spine. 


and i talked to her, 

too, when she was a kitten,

almost like she’d listen. as if i could talk the abandonment away.

i’d say oh, i’m very lonely,

and step by step she’d approach me, her curious pink nose scrunching,

almost as if she could smell the rank of loneliness on me.


in eighth grade 

i met a boy, and he was very tall, and joked about being choked by the clouds. 

for the first time in my life someone looked over their shoulder for me, making sure i was behind them, making sure the crowd hadn’t swallowed me up

that the students hadn’t swatted me away like some fly. 


we are our own worst mirrors.

as a child i swore off love

because i thought it was too good for me,

i thought love didn’t occur to malaises.

little did i know 

i was searching for you in everyone.

when i was a freshman a girl with your hair sat next to me on the bus

and it was two seats.

i thought all day about her thigh warmly touching mine.

she did not move away.

it was the first time someone was not repulsed by me.

a few years ago we did a project in german

about dream partners , and i was scared to write the feminine form,

so i wrote the male one instead,

but i said i wanted him 

to be funny, dusklight warm, gentle, a voyager.

of course

i didn’t know german that well 

so i said i wanted him to be funny and tall . 


and you, the morning song

glazed in peach juice,

i carry a piece of you everywhere i go,

shoehorn you into memories,

as if you were with me all along.

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