is everything splendid borrowed?
you let me read your Rita Dove books
& i didn’t write in them
knowing i would have to return
each cracked spine to your shelf.
your room smelled like cactus candle
& brushed teeth. the window laughed
flecks of car tire alley way.
do you miss what you took from me?
i miss removing your shirts
from the laundry bag before you got home.
i would wear them like dresses
& then place them back, fumbling
to fold them as they came. last autumn
when i was a made of different
less vibrating molecules
i rented the car i drove to my parent’s house.
grey rain spit water constellations
on the windshield.
the radio came in clear as a knife.
i plugged my phone in & played
Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans from start
to finish. i pretended
the car was mine even though i only had
four days with it. i forget why
i even came home. the drive from
New York to corn field Pennsylvania
dwindled me to nothing but urges.
i wanted to stand in the backyard. i wanted
to walk the dog all the way over
the waning moon. staring at the car
in the gravel driveway, it looked terribly
out of place. all shiny & white &
fresh. the insides smelled translucent.
the headlights cut holes in my father.
i said i missed you when i didn’t.
i was only thinking about missing the car
& missing this American gasoline freedom.
in my parent’s house, we wear couches down
until their stomachs touch carpet.
i do the same. let my shoes come to pieces.
sand my heart down to a mirror.
i took my brother on a ride
around the block & i considered
car dealerships. all their newness.
i envied all steering wheels.
you were at home toe-deep in
your own private encyclopedias
& maybe sitting by your window. i missed
your ankles. i missed your closet.
tragic ride home. goodbye beautiful life.
the car key like a talisman. you can
come in & out of love with someone several times
just on the same highway. my life still fits
in back seats of cars i don’t own.
turned the radio into a boy &
let his voice lie to me. i gave back
your books one by one without telling you.
in the morning, i dropped the car off
& walked home up Jericho Turnpike
that dreary Monday. car horns squawked
like tired old birds.
i want to be your ram.
cut me into parcels of meat
& pixel. the sky is a screen saver.
refresh me until i spin.
my father used to take my down
to the creek & raise a butcher’s knife
over my head. he told me it was
a dove. i see birds as weapons.
the altar in my house gallops
across the floor.
we wrestle for holiness
in the midnight’s simmer.
i can tie myself up like
a package or a promise. i make
a great sacrifice. i won’t even
scream. the lord is typing
in his study on the lead type-writer.
he’s pounding out promises
& particulars the day to come.
we bought hand cuffs
from the dollar store. grey plastic.
swallowed the keys & ran off
into the wild woods without hands.
my father wore binoculars
around his neck to keep tabs
on his livestock. a boy is a kind
of mosaic. the trees turning
to cord & rope. rope tangling us.
us, the little pairs of legs.
often the sun is the biggest
betrayer, painting all your secrets
in light. father glimpses us
as we found hollows to store
our hooves in. called us back
with a push of a red button.
the siren was a girl twisted tight.
he never kept the knives in the drawer,
he laid them out on display
from smallest to largest. i wanted
to lay down between the knives.
i want to be your ram. i already know
where my body will come apart.
i’ll show you were & how to dismantle
if you tell me i was a good animal
& i tried my best to plug in.
kiss the static from my eyes.
i want to be your beautiful viral.
there’s no such thing
Robin Gow is a trans poet and young adult author. They are the author of OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL DEGENERACY (Tolsun Books 2020) and the chapbook HONEYSUCKLE (Finishing Line Press 2019). Their first young adult novel, A MILLION QUIET REVOLUTIONS is slated for publication winter 2022 with FSG. Gow’s poetry has recently been published in POETRY, New Delta Review, and Washington Square Review. Gow received their MFA from Adelphi University where they were also an adjunct instructor. Gow is a managing editor at The Nasiona, MAYDAY, and Sundress Publications.