Three Poems

There’s a maiden who must escape
and so transforms herself
into a pond. She is doing this
again and again, drinking
her own water while you prop
pillows round your head
and a turnip princess sprouts
from dampened soil. The children
dream of growing roots and
dicing themselves into soup,
its broth already boiling.
Just think of all the opened
mouths, the bellies growing full
with lore when frog legs
leap into a young boy’s arms—
he will bathe them first
then kiss them all, while
woodland ladies chop down
trees and lay the kindling
for a fire. Now the whole world
has tucked itself into bed.
There’s a girl who tells lies
till her child-sized teeth blacken
and fall from her jaw. She remembers
a fairytale told and then told
until it grows old as her.

The night you try to kill yourself I am eating cake
with strawberry frosting and you are in a mountain-town
motel room downing tylenol and vodka.

At least there is a view
when you stumble back into consciousness
on the balcony and look out—

you told me it felt like dying
but I never asked if you meant
the passing out or the waking up.

In France, I aspirate the h (hear
asphyxiated breath), order a hamburger
hold it foil-wrapped and hot.

Why am I always eating
when you decide to die? I don’t swallow
for days. At the wake,

your body’s swollen
and your throat is wide. We all
smell of formaldehyde and ethanol,

embalmed. I feel the stiffness
set in. I move as little
as I can but you move less.

I was too tight
with fear and you
were too tender
with your almost-death
and so we had to use our hands
to pull some part
of what we felt
back to the surface
of our skin and if this
was love or lust then both
are a bodily sadness, the
terror of losing
you again. There
in the basement of your family
home we shook
with the need to conceive
of some place
where you could bury yourself
and be alive. Beneath
the covers we clung
to the sheets and each
other but mostly
we clung to ourselves
when you came
crouched above me
on your hands and knees
in an arc across
that terrified bed
and we knew that this
was the most alive
you had been and would
ever be again.

Erika Luckert

Erika is a writer from Edmonton, Alberta, and a winner of the 92Y/Boston Review Discovery Prize. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University, and was nominated for the Canadian National Magazine Award in Poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, the Indiana Review, CALYX, Room Magazine, Measure, Atticus Review, the Boston Review, and elsewhere. Erika lives in New York City, where she teaches creative and critical writing.

Arthur Asa

Arthur was born in Monterrey, Mexico. He studied graphic design and industrial design but decided to leave everything behind and become a construction worker. During this time he discovered all he ever wanted to do was draw and tell stories. He is now an illustrator by afternoon and a comic artist by night—sometimes both by night. He has a comic called Where the Heart Is that you can find online.

First Featured In: No. 10, spring 2018

The Uprising Issue

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