Colorado State University Center for Literary Publishing

Excerpt from The City She Was

The Science of Parting

You’re a wet thing in my throat: oyster.
Particulate matter too: oyster and earth.
If I mix it, then you’re planet, the meniscus
so bright to burn me.  You’re a ruddy neck,
porous and freckle. You’re opalescent
material in the fathoms, the genus of which
I am branch. You’re the knitting of scars, that miracle.
I sit in the kitchen, and you’re the compound of rain and wind
on our windows. I pin myself to your axis, sure and solid
gradient. You’re the Cartesian pause in my basis,
the cog sound of mechanical doors aching
with exit. Then later, you’re my recurrence,
the integer that began us, the formula, its solution.




Let Down My Bucket

I kept hearing the small voice
describe what I was missing or
staying out of tonight: like

trees that howl and have
cooler things than arms.
I heard: Give in. Or easier:


(Like orange loves the sky
over a desert
I’ve broken open stones

looking for my part
or filled with all to be the planet
you want

I was disappear then come back,
disappear then come back)





I came to know my rival’s name when it got posted on the billboard across the street. I saw them come and take down the old one pasting up my rival’s golden hair first.

Each tendril was as thick as my wrist, four or five shades of yellow in the picture. I couldn’t see her left ear with all that hair, but an earring, a ruby. We live in a windy city, so they could barely tame her face. One man held one corner and pinned it back. The other man pulled his end taut while this went down. He patted her rouged cheek.

It was just the face and not the body. Her mouth was big as a lifeboat, like she could save us. Her giant eyes followed me like the Mona Lisa. I stared long to see if I could know her, so much I came to know her story. Then we were connected.

It was spiritual. We began to look alike, her face as mine. I adopted her remote and pristine mannerism.

Eventually I wrote her to tell her about the goings-on outside my window. Since I had her audience I also told her about my grief collection. I felt like I could tell her anything and I did. I began at the beginning, spelling out for her the twists and turns of my exile.

I told her that I called myself Rapunzel after our long hair. I took pictures of her from every angle so she could see what I see.

The letter took me months and meanwhile her face disintegrated with the weather, bits and pieces of my Dorian Gray.


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