Caitlin Neely


My mother teaches me
how to rinse parsley.

Dirt ripens the drain.
Her ring rests by the sink.

Gardens caught
in our mouths. The moon

outside: an accident,
a dog sifting bones.

It’s dinner, early fall.
Ella on the radio. I snap

my fingers, my crumpled jeans
the color of river

after a storm. The sound
of chopping, pots boiling,

dry pasta torn in half,
everything forgetting itself.

In my picture books,
the Styx ferried bodies

to the beyond. Every grave
green shoots.


Every direction treeless. Every house
I’ve lived in stacked up like
milk bottles. They’re watching me

from the windows, lined up
to catch a glimpse of the girl
who doesn’t feel, who

doesn’t cry when the boys
tug at my skirt, pull barrettes
from my long hair. If this

was a dream the field would be
water already, my body naked.
The curtains in the windows

something I could float on,
froth of white. But there
is no sea here, no quiet.

My mouth is a pinned butterfly.
I cut a stone out of the air.
How pretty she is, they say,

their noses singeing the glass.

Caitlin Neely lives in Virginia. Her work has been published in West Branch, The Journal, Passages North, Sixth Finch, Devil’s Lake, and elsewhere.