Mayo Clinic: Rochester, Minnesota

By Lillie Lainoff

I have seen the children whose sorrow tastes of licorice,
that bites on tongues and leaves scars around the gum line in the
shape of asterisks and gaping stars,
their heads shiny and smooth as eggs.

I have seen the boys with the violet faces
mechanical in their movements, as if they were
on a carousel, the world around them changing
while they were hanging suspended.

I have seen the mothers who flatten bronze into sheets,
melt it down to make molten marrow,
staining their daughters’ lifeblood purple to resemble
the color of star-gazer lilies.

I have seen the dreams that are crystallized sugar
in the mold of coils of wire and stacks of bills
too sweet and never going anywhere
just folding back into themselves over and over and over.

Although I have not seen my scars, I know they are there
just like how I know I may seem different but I am the same,
and that if I pull out my upper lip in the mirror and look
hard enough, maybe then I will be able to see the sick girl.  

 

*This poem has been modified from the print version

 

Boston, Saturday

By Laurence Li

Behind the glass pane: a mummified man, a mummified cat.
Heads coated with clay and black paste. They
Lie with two smiles typical of the era,
18th dynasty, Greek influence.

Looking around, Jenn and I see a purple-jacketed woman with loose-ended blonde curls.
And her husband, in his “Metallica” T-Shirt, neck craning to see a fading papyrus narrative,
But they are at distance, ten to fifteen meters away. We walk into a sun-lit corridor, leading
To the sculpture-garden, which features a row of cracked grey benches, spotted with moss.
“Just for you,” she says, as I view the brown scars near the shoulder blades.
“Take it slow,” she says, moving my hands in the correct direction,
Towards the mind, not the heart, and I feel her soft, weed-like hair.

The rest of the day was jade sword hilts, French tapestries and the scouting of alcoves.
The evening was long noodles, clear glances and a sandbank, across the Charles from the MIT dome,
Up grey stairs from a dock crowded at the edges with fishing-reels.
There we speak little, perhaps not a word.

 

Island Time

By Jordan Cutler-Tietjen

Two men gathering
pockets of air
off the surface
breathe visibly.
The current bends
their canoe west, tightening
spools of kelp
wrapped around white thighs.

Strand by strand,
they return the patch of green
to youth. They listen
to their ribs creak
with the waves and
hear proof of an
elemental pursuit —

water, bone. Hot salt
piles where their skin folds,
opaleye eggs hatch deep underneath.
How many years have we come back?
They echo each other’s paddling
until the squalls roll in.

They then heave to the banks,
piling together sticky spirals,
and on this day the men
leave it beached: they know
that kelp is growing up

from under the ocean, and
they will return only to rope what
is left around their legs and so
be turned away from shore.

 

watch the way

By Margaret Sage

More than that boy, the golden boy,
through slop-carpeted hallways smiling
and smiling for our consideration, but I,
perceptive or some shit, tried to barrel through
his teeth, to make him talk, I don’t know what.
If I wanted to watch his stairwells rot
and fall — thousands of floors and half- and quarter-floors
and no safe way to travel — it’s only because
I wanted to help rebuild them. Watch the way we both could navigate the absents.
I asked him to tell me about that day, in all the grime and grain
he could manage. He did, but told me lies.
In elevators now, I often press the buttons just to see
if they are gold (it’s soft but thick, like spit) or only gilded
as the boys who dance in place at parties.
He and I are not involved, but I contemplate marriage.

I’ve mulled and muddled. Watch the way
the gloom of August hides me. He and I don’t talk
anymore, on clean-cut cellphones or along cut-throat jawlines, but still
his stairwells cramp and jostle and are mostly clean, ignored.
Watch out — any gilded boy is coming. Watch the way
he moves like August unanswered.