Neglected in the alley behind the school,
planter boxes arrayed in columns:
onions crowning humic soil;
chirping foxtail bolting through handmedowns;
yellow-tongued cavalcade strutting passion
and burgundies where white moths hover like aftermath.
Wheedling open the back exit, I was thinking
that my sons had grown without me
a razor peppered with black stubble
stranded on the sink this morning, the mesh
of a left sneaker scraped hollow at the big toe.
What is it to love that which will grow
beyond the body’s facility to keep it?
Laughter like the earth tearing open,
like gravel and shrift collected after a thaw
scrapes through where the door is wedged with a rock.
How easily, unnoticed, I will slip back inside the cool
cream hallway, hit copy on a machine
24 times. Collate. Staple.
I have lived unaware of how whole coastlines
wave and shift like DNA.
Behind wildflowers, moths disperse as a student
clinks a padlock onto the fence.
Initials tethered to a heart
shrug into the lock’s steel backing, rapping on chain link.
Not this. Not this. The lock shakes.
Carved trembling, the heart is a white moth.
Sharing a Labelless Bottle While a Storm Rumbles in What is Between Us
After Mary Szybist
This stiffness of air, this sky pitching above us,
gathering with each swig, each laugh what we do not need
to acknowledge to each other.
Your voice’s sediment casts into the heat.
Winged seeds the color of raw sienna
shake from elegant clusters. Aciculate leaves
flutter a ruffled sheet below heaped clouds
rolling in dusk’s vibrant acclaim, stretching
westward, thinning scarlet for the blues
the atmosphere has filtered out.
Still forked in the distance, still expanding
in the space directly between what I want
and what I can’t anticipate, the storm
bends us toward each other. The cilia on our arms
lifts electric as we swirl our glasses and inhale
what may be tannic or gritty or sodden or sweet.
Moriah Cohen has been published in Adroit Journal, Best New Poets, Juked, Narrative, and elsewhere. Her chapbook Impossible Bottle (Finishing Line Press) is due in August 2021.