Words By Amie Whittemore, Art By Arthur Asa
Dark and tasting
of bitter and dirt
it thrives in the heart’s cellar
which looks like it
cooked or shredded
if eaten raw.
Its pink turns her hands
my mouth its rootdark
twin, its rhyme.
She says we’ll dye everything—
hair, shirt, ocean,
tooth, elbow, husk—
red as womb that underheart.
She says she’ll cut my hair
the way women do
when they’re flush with flood.
hoarder of vitamins,
its leafcrown a dress
Hannah tosses aside—
she feeds me strand
by nourishing strand
sap paints my neck
all tongue its wake
wet as blood, rootsweet.
Lavender globe, oversized lollipop, bobble-
headed dancer, I desire your frowzy shazam.
So glam, even after death. Bleached and fragile.
I kept your desiccate heads in a vase for years,
transposing meadow into hipster décor.
All you require is dirt, rocks, sugaring of sunshine.
I’d like to find a phalanx of you and lie below,
mooning over a purple planet sky. Discard modern life:
groceries, desks, screens—their companionate plumping.
Hitch to the caterpillar’s scam and cocoon to you,
stalk-latched, dreaming wings. Proboscis to sip you clean.
For Stephanie Bernhard
Night hangs its dark laundry
from the spruce and magnolias’
white knobs bob in thin wind.
A child, far off, shouts once.
Bike wheels on gravel. Click
of kickstands. Muffled cough.
And now, fireflies, their lust
a most efficient luminescence,
syncing and unlinking,
like revelers at a party’s end.
Fewer though. No migration
for these beetles, every pavement
a disaster. I could add: fewer
toads pouncing from the lawn
mower’s skirr. Fewer bird songs—
all sparrow now, all starling.
Far off a car door slams.
A man’s voice, then a woman’s.
Laughter. Chirp of locking doors.
A cat slinks through grass,
its teeth augury. Its body stand-in
for every engine of extinction.
Japanese beetles fret birch leaves.
Dropped keys sing on concrete.
The fireflies spark and spark—
oh haunted dark, fever of fewer.
This unbearable getting used to.