The Budding Boy
After the painting “Budding Boy” by Julie Heffernan
White limbed and long, a scattering of bones and moonlight twined with sinew and red hair. He stands barefoot, naked as the tree he has grown from, holds the bounty he has gathered to his stomach: peaches, pomegranates, blackberries, and bird skulls, these eggshells of what he is made of. I find him outside my window after a night of uprooted sheets. He looks back like a cherry blossom floating away on a river of mercury. Oh, he is the salt and rice of me, my sighs by honeyed candleburn, an apple that calls with the hiss of a snake, coaxes a meeting of tongue and lips like prayers. His fingers dig into the branches, searching for steadiness, waiting for my mouth to swallow the whole of him, the nectar of his blooming, white petals in their unraveling.
Don’t Look Down
You head toward a life you won’t be living.
— Kim Hyesoon
The hand in your hand is already a ghost.
What you don’t know keeps you running
on air after the cliff gives way.
Confession: there is no truth that will keep
you and your joy in the same sky.
The ghost in your hand is flickering,
begging, drowning. Do you know?
Your joy is crying, is overwhelmed.
Your joy is taking off his face.
Don’t look down.
He is still behind you. But you do not see him.
He is waving goodbye. But you do not turn.
You hold your hands and head toward a life
you won’t be living because all you believe in
is the indigo night of a future
you will never get to hold. Because
your muscles are made of prayer,
and gravity knows your worth.
After Alyssa Matuchniak
summer apples fat-bellied, by the metal
scent of my blood, the silk nipples dark
red, swollen sugar rubies, dotted cherry,
browning end of harvest: reminder, of
red-paling blossom, deepening your rich
red linen lies, your crimson ritual of
purity, cleansed in lipstick like blood,
shiny and ruby dark, flicker of garnet on