POEM AS A LETTER TO MY MOTHER
You’re always yelling at me to stop having sex. This time I’m a bitch deflecting, saying I already feel bad so why push it? We’re at my grandmother’s apartment when I notice your chin. Its flesh peels like the rind of an orange, and right in the middle there’s a quarter-sized chunk missing. I stare into the hole, its crack of parklight. In it I see an old man who just wrecked his bike, twisted under the still-spinning wheels, legs tangled in the frame. I offer my forearm, bent at the elbow. Blood speckles his face like an egg. His body ticks in my grandmother’s kitchen, how she sat in a dollar-store chair in waves of dusk and city sirens, doing her bills by hand. His expression glitters crystalline grimaces, it licks & chews the meat of my head, savored & suckling my pith as pollen bends the air in dim astrology. I pick a sticky twig from his shoulder. He continues to gnaw, park pregnant with calm, the pause deified, and lazy grey geese, and lazy pieces of peel scattered like scales on the walk.
POEM AS A LETTER TO MEREDITH
I was looking for a baby in a large packet of foil
filled with mashed potatoes. The foil unfurled
like a diaper flower, but the baby never bobbed up
dead or alive. Now I’m sitting with a blanket draped
over me like a survivor. I’m thinking art masks
the way our lives are sad. How cush it is to own
a blanket, no whisking me away on a stretcher.
At some point we’ll return to school together,
I know it. You’ll pour water on my pant suit
like a dare. Our mutual friends will laugh politely,
chins twitching as they assess us. Then: a sanitary
cafeteria, long and alone, with nothing but workers
hunched over their prep, mourning irreversible rouxs.
Dear Meredith, I’m writing to ask, should we eat
the mashed potatoes? Should we ask for a map?
Ally Harris is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, Dispersal (The Song Cave, 2019), Her Twin Was After Me (Slim Princess Holdings, 2014) and floor baby (dancing girl press, 2011). She has poems in Apology Magazine, Denver Quarterly, Bennington Review, BOAAT Press, Grist Journal, Salt Hill, The Volta, and more. She was a recipient of a Regional Arts & Culture Council Grant for a project related to her reading series Submission, based out of Portland, OR. You can follow her on Twitter at @submissionpdx.