We bruise through a field, all thick weed and misplaced razors,
tears scattered like seeds in the backwater.
Of the shapeless distances, you talk up shadows
like gods. There’s the haunted rifle
and handler, Amish mottled bull, a raccoon
roasted on a spit. A vulgar metaphor for the moon.
From another world, a headlight scratches my thigh
and I try to wipe it off. Fireflies blink a perfect economy
of constellation, steeped against our palms like lasers.
A blueback wind. A sophonic wisdom. A lightning sheen.
A liquid mirror. An echo with no wall and its grave, lapsing blue
and crying and crying for a beautiful hunter.
The hunter is us. The air is howling and impatient. The article
for girl and grass is blade. We swallow each sound,
heavy moons chafing throat to pearl.
This is where rogue orphans of hope
take refuge, gleeful in their decay,
burrowing in the ears of hapless souls.
This dream has no room for memory
nor the madness of future—
we clench loneliness
in our molars crashing through brush
and unrelenting twin stains
in an oversaturated night
sprinting over a translucent manhole
and spilling into something sleepless and unheld
spilling from the unholy frame
and the towards is unknown, oh
it has to be—
turgid ground and skyfulls of paint
rippling horizon unclasping
scars cracking on an endless palm
my face and your ripped smile
swelling beneath the delicate lilt
between chasing and being chased—
and we’re sprawled two soft shells
sloshing in the lowest darkness tragic
and grinning. Torn from every unrusted machine
and free as any insect.
Overhead, aliens have eerily even luck in poker
and veer off course, zip by Earth,
a comet brighter than blood. You see them
and almost tell me.
In the middle of a forest, a tree thuds
and a shard of sky slices your cheek—
you have broken the paradox
and no one else is grateful.
Behind, mushrooms crown through; baby fuzz,
a misting of a too-human thirst.
New wheat cleaves their ancestors into crystal lumber.
A tractor undulates dirt into gold.
A phone fishes itself out and a blue hologram
lulls us back into the Jeep,
back to the dotlike houses and dotlike beds,
and all night, I rub the belly of a wool blanket
into sparks of timelapsed stars:
a soft universe of our own.
Ava Chen is a student poet residing in Massachusetts. Her work has been recognized by Smith College and the national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and appears or is forthcoming in Scapegoat Review, and Ghost City Review, among others. Her debut chapbook, Snow Syndrome, is forthcoming with dancing girl press.