Forbes and Fifth

Planetarium; 2:06 AM; Skin

Planetarium

i.

yesterday, we went running at the lip of dusk
by the foot of the old bridge—a sliver
of horizon in persimmon dystopia—you turned
and said I feel like we’re in the future.

How far? I said. But you were watching a single
car drive past, hands on your purpled kneecaps
as the headlights snapped our shadows
back into place. There shouldn’t be
cars in the future,
you said,
like you were disappointed

ii.

in school we learned to fit
1,000 Earths in Jupiter’s belly

heads tilted up,
we watched in awe as stars rolled
with each flick of the teacher’s fingers
and you told me this theory—whispered
among a constellation of first graders—
that on 1,000 Earths you could fit
1,000 lives, 1,000 different ways
to make the same mistake
or fix them if we’re lucky

iii.

I still wonder if you’re mad
about when I took you out on your birthday
and we were tailing the moon to Sunoco
and breathing in the scent of gasoline.

Where to? I asked, tracing Ursa Major with my thumb
but you shut yourself back into the truck
and told me to take you home.

iv.

you won’t eat fruit unless it’s cut up for you.
I place a silver bowl of persimmon slices on the kitchen table
and count the freckles on your shoulders from the porch window.

you’re standing out in the garden, barefooted, breathing in comets,
            eyes closed like you could somehow
            spin a solar system out of yearning alone


it never works—you know this—but you keep trying,

until a kidney stone the size of Pluto
            starts to weigh you down.

v.

without students, the planetarium is a husk,
an empty galaxy. You climb behind the console,
—a self-professed God—and flick the switches
like we remembered. The universe moves but
there’s something missing

in another life, I could be anything, you say
but that’s just it; you’ve always been
trapped—by this ceiling—in this orbit.

 

2:06 a.m.

the spin cycle is only for heavy loads
and four cups of rice is too much for one person.

craigslist is merciful
and doesn’t tell you
that the house is too big
and too dark

but that’s not the point—the point is that you’ve been
sleeping in your own bed and you’re still homesick
until your stomach hurts, until you’ve slept 14 hours
but your bones feel like plastic straws.
you remember weekends at noon, the covers swept off
your naked legs, your sunshine belly, a happy shriek.

now, the kitchen table is empty. A chipped bowl sits
next to the computer, frozen on a screensaver of careening stars
and the memory of your brother lining up his cheerios like planets.

but here’s the thing, here’s what no one tells you: tomorrow
you’ll be pouring cereal milk down the drain
sucking the dregs between your teeth and
watching the computer cursor waver on
the precipice of another empty document

(in all the places rubbed raw
your lavender bathrobe still smells like home, at least).

perhaps it always did, you just never noticed
until last night when you were wrinkling
in the shower, shoving your breasts together until
finally, the pale curvature of a sphere emerged.

but if you still aren’t ready,
know this: facing the showerhead brings back
a thrumming that reminds you of the metro in Vancouver,
pillowed on your mother’s thighs at 3 am where somehow
there were still people aboard, bobbing and swaying
with the vestige current like electrons, like seaweed.

 

Skin

first: you’re just a trace of dandelion fuzz
tucked into the crease of a couch cushion.
your elbows don’t work yet but they will.
you’re a monolid, an apple blush,
and it’s warm.

second: you’re aluminum foil, shiny,
with jagged teeth, clinging
summers are made from watermelon cubes, magnolia leaves,
and while you like the smell of frozen peas,
you still have doubts about eating them.

third: you’re a dragon scale,
a gleaming set of wings. you try on every shoe
in Nordstrom, though none seem to fit.
it’s fine, you like the shape of your toes, and
every night you dream in color.

fourth: you’re the wrapper on a cereal bar.
google says your skin is worth
$10 per square inch. i promise
you’re something to look at.

fifth: you feel like a napkin,
sometimes coffee-stained upholstery.
you wear scarves in the dead of summer,
and Band-Aids everywhere else.
the dishwasher is full to bursting.

sixth: you’re a folded parachute.
you’ve started collecting paint swatches
and memorizing the names on top.
on saturdays, you ride the subway,
on sundays, you stay at home.

seventh: you’re a window screen
stippled with dew.
sometimes, you like to imagine an empty highway
playing connect-the-dots with your scars
and you glow.

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Volume 10, Spring 2017