M. J. Arlett


You don’t know the names I have been
calling you while you sleep.
Nestled golden curled into yourself –

a fist tensed through the night.

I will keep you here and make you listen
to what the morning sings.

The shudder of a swallow’s call,
throat frosted as the grass.

Creak of the house.

Sunrise, a yawn made of light.


In the field next door, the lambs are bleating.
The sound carries into the garden
where my grandfather is pruning the hedges
while my uncle steadies the ladder and winces,
watching his father clip away a little too wildly,
branches falling in a flurry
of evergreen snow.
The roses my sister helped plant
are blooming, pink as her cheeks
when she runs towards us screaming
as the men chase her with the shears.
My grandmother’s liver spotted hands
cradle mine under the wooden balcony
while I toy with the rings on her finger.
She asks which I would like to try,
puts the chosen finger in her mouth,
sucks at the skin, and eventually
eases the jewelled band
over the arthritic mounds on her knuckles.
Together we slip the iridescent opals
from her hand onto mine.


M. J. Arlett is an MFA candidate at Florida International University. She was born in the UK, spent several years in Spain and now lives in Miami. Her work can be found in Portland Review, Gravel, and The Fem.