I try not to use it, your
the only thing that belongs to
your skin and your skin alone.
It sits on the bathroom shelf between
your razor and your face wash,
both of which I press against my
skin to clear the day’s collection.
To be clean like you is enough to sate during
the coming and going.
You put it in your pocket when you go
out searching at night: your knife,
the brass worn from your turning
it over and over in your hand, sweat
slicking the mechanism in
preparation for the possible
Once, when you looked for things in
the alley to bring
a man wanted your gold ring. You stung him
deep, calling your parents dead.
We are safe in that story— that
we are all we have.
I keep forgetting the safe places
that we hide and rehide them, our
If we could leave, we would,
but we are not done building
our secret coves in each other,
storing memories of two winters,
full of tea forgotten, steeped too
long while we hid as the sun
We will be ready when we start leaving the
passports in one place.
I tell you it never spoils: honey.
You already knew,
but you listened,
to my buzzing on about
how the stolen nectar could
slide down the throat
You let me save the last of
a plastic bear, to watch it
If we taste it, it will etch into our taste buds— not
CLUMPS OF VETARA
I want to know the causes of discontent—like discovering the seed of a planter’s wart. Once, I thought it was my hair, so close to covering my nipples like those paintings of sirens—mermaids with long locks in the mist.
If you are mad at me about anything, it is that we do not have a vacuum; my hair stays all over our carpet, bed, shower, windowsills, your clothes, mine, in the bottom of the coffee mugs. So, one night, you cut it short.
We thought we would stop finding it everywhere. As if it would decide to stay rooted without the weight. As if our days would be quieter.
As if I would stop being so anxious in my searching.
What bothers me is that no one knows that
sirens are actually birds—no hair, no bodies.
I run my hands through the waves of my scalp. I hold a clump
of homecoming, sweet tea, pride, humidity, and Christmas trees.
This nest in my palm, tangled ropes between my fingers.
“ M I T O C H O N D R I A A R E N ‘ T S E X Y ” | SONNET FOR THE WAHL‘S PROTOCOL
No—nothing sensual in the research:
mutilated myelin and cell death
and massive acute axonal injury. Lesions
are not textured with story:
they happen, the brain’s narcissus bud.
Look here, in this white matter: they say after
immediate destruction of the myelin
sheath, the region glows in the MRI
contrast, like a star. Not dead, but
dying—sending flares out into the dark
of the naked nerve fibers.
Then, there is a slow-burning, those little deaths
brushing against other matters. The lonely bodies burst
open, sharing the conclusive damage.
GROCERY SHOPPING IN A GAS STATION
The trouble with writing letters: send them off
and forget. I can’t hold on, under blackberry-stained fingers,
to everything I meant to tell you before I left. A dove— a small hope that maybe, just maybe, the carefully addressed envelope
will never reach you, and I will continue to spend my days arked, thinking of the theologian who claimed orgasms were tiny losses of the soul, and all those muscles in the back of my mouth:
what commas do to amendments, hesitations, warnings of women that cling and women that don’t, peanuts, butter, peanut butter.
I fill my bag with apples, an easier list. You told me you could be
a mushroom; I’d keep you in soup with green onions.
You called me lush, and I didn’t hear you—I ordered another bottle
of wine: red was your color once. Now the yellows in your face accent the wrong things.
We left Atlas alone—bring up knees always bent, listening to birth after birth, but we keep matching socks while considering what to do for dinner.
What cancels out? Art and lungs, thoroughly demonized, turkey and tomatoes,
the unproblem you had reaching up to touch the cold sore in the corner of my mouth.
In modes of separation, still we come together and I am tired, naked and pure as greater purpose and a lost earring in shag carpet: we are more than anything we spend our time on.
Haptic studies were never meant to describe adults—I reach out to know your face, lining your lips over and over like nervous doodles on a stalled plane.
I used to fear waking up in flames from the heater
in the wall. I kept it off, and the cold always dug up
memories of the way you etched ships into my body,
connecting the freckles as if I were the constellations
we saw on that pacific beach— we called the shadows
in the sand water, so they were water, and we hopped
over them to spare the beds of sea creatures. We reached up—the sky so close—praying for pieces to fall. Salt soaked
through my boots then, and I still felt the grains between my toes the night the bronchitis settled in.
You carried me to the ER as my esophagus closed, and I was cold. I woke to your lips on my face,
warm as red wine, and found my chest full again. You were looking hard at me and smiling; you said,
If heaven is a clear sea with jasper-colored floors, we’ve seen it already— nowhere else to go.
I’M WORKING ON A THEORY THAT MASLOW’S HIERARCHY IS INACCURATE
Take off your clothes and let me see the way your body curves in the kitchen light.
According to the definition, anything can be salad—to me, you are popular and ready-to-eat
like lettuce. Carrots. A radish—a little bruised.
Make dinner naked, and I’ll know you’re happy.
You catch a cold from the damp kitchen—a little mold
in your lungs, skin wilted.
I look at you: If I have to be sorry, then I’m sorry.
Hannah Baggott is currently pursuing an MFA in Poetry at Oregon State University in the U.S., while teaching English Composition courses. She helps run a monthly poetry open-mic at a local coffee shop. Her work can be found or forthcoming in Bellevue Literary Review, Open Minds Quarterly, Tupelo Quarterly, Contrary Magazine, Cactus Heart, and other journals. Find her online at www.hannahbaggott.com (@hannahbaggott on Twitter).