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TWO POEMS – Emily Alexander

on June 21 | in Poetry | by | with No Comments

LOOKING BACK

(after Aracelis Girmay)

I thank God for the plastic table on the porch
of this apartment, this apartment
and the porch. I thank God for the light
coming through the window from my living room.
I am thankful for this stretch of sky, stars rolling
like marbles across it, the dizzy darkness, the cigarettes
sticking to the spit on our lips, the wine
rippling in the glass while Jade shakes his knee, and both of us
rippled, nervous things. Months from now, after
we stop sleeping together, we’ll stop seeping
into night like this, and our knee creases will stay
bent in our own beds, and I’ll miss
the slight sweat of him, the dent in the mattress, and he won’t
notice anything but how early, how long
darkness is. I am thankful for each hum from his mouth
now, and our four hip bones, and the bruise
on my shin, and the rosemary withered in the pots I planted
it in. I thank God for how wholly I trust
the night air between us to hold
our teeth in, despite our wide yawns. I want
to catch his breath as it unravels from him like a rope, I tie
myself to it. I am thankful for the pull, how thickly
I believe it saves me, how thickly his breathing,
how thickly it braids now into my own.
 


SITTING ON THE ROOF OF THE OLD HOUSE
 

My sister and I crawl out the window and unroll
towels to rest our elbows on. Down the street wavering

lines of heat hum. We are young,
shin bones bruised, ponytails frayed

ropes down our backs, our bodies still simple, spreading out
on thin shoulder blades. Our mother gives

us each a square of soil to dig our hands into, to grow
poppies, tulips, broccoli to pick and eat, but we let the boxes ruin

the grass in the front yard. We want only to float above
the neighborhood like lazy gods or birds or the sun

flopping across the sky. The world does not owe us
a single gleaming thing, but we don’t yet know

this. Phone lines swing past gold fields, wrinkled trees
unfold, the raw rag of summer drapes itself over our not quite

nervous bodies. It is all ours. And hours
pulse by, seeds still in their packages, while each delicious

hammer of light strikes for us, for us and our ripening skin.
 
 
Emily Alexander is a writer, a student, a clumsy waitress, an Idahoan, an older sister, and a self-proclaimed foodie. Her poetry can be found in NAILED Magazine, Radar Poetry, and Vending Machine Press, among others. She was recently awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize at the University of Idaho.

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