Photo by Jeff Sirkin



At night

my skin began to

change. It was something new

to be sad about:

first, the disappearance

of birds outside

and then lines

where my body

stretched into little slopes

covered in half-buried

worms. Sometimes

I asked the mirror

why I looked this way.

I wanted

my sister’s hands. I wanted

legs like a doll. At the very least,

I wanted a return

to my old

girl-shape: feathery and lean, durable

as plastic, now bent

in too many different

ways to recognize myself.

In bed I closed my eyes

and pretended

my hands

were pieces of paper

thrown out the window and scattered

below. My body became a pond,

fluid and skinless.

I was something with distance

from land, something more

than flesh for blood

to bloom out of, like the scent

of a petal          fragrant and

mostly unseen.


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*** ** ***



On my thirteenth birthday I became

a cottonwood tree.

It was painless and fast, the soft dough

of bones rising before

silence as the day moved on.

The other saplings

welcomed me, whispered

what’s it like

to move? They told me they wished to run–

in thunder storms, in

fire season, at the occasional pinch

of pocket knives

carving lopsided hearts into

their feet.


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*** ** ***




like trying to see

the stems of flowers


their vase:

sunflower— thick and ridged; pansy—

emaciated waif. It makes

me want

to be bagged, be square-shaped

with a covered neck and

eyes sewn shut.

Too close to a

shroud, I can’t help

but think. And what

of ice cold tiles on bare pink

feet— oh, how I would

miss all that.


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*** ** ***



While you drew

snow flakes on my back

I imagined the felt-tipped

pen was

something real,

a permanent ice

bonded to skin

that before you was untouched

It was

so soft,

like fingers, almost, or lips

small enough to kiss

each lonely cell.

It was light enough, too, not to last

too long. The next day,

shower water became grey

and I


like Springtime ground,

sad and bare

in all

this newness.


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*** ** ***



I wake and there is

no where to go but back to the lake.

I left my voice there, threw it

in the water days before, when the air

smelled like church and I didn’t think

I’d need it. I walk the perimeter, dip

my face in and open my mouth.

When that doesn’t work

I try stones.

As they leave my palm and

arc through the air I decide

to fly, not to swim, is the

opposite of to drown. These rocks

know both: what it means

to soar over sorrow, what

it means to land back in it. They

will never speak of it, though,

unless I dive into

the heavy bottom, and carry them,

unwillingly, back out.


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Meriwether ClarkeMeriwether Clarke
is a poet and educator living in Los Angeles, California. Recent poems can be seen in The Journal, Juked, The Superstition Review, Leveler, Memorious, Prelude, Salt Hill, The Blueshift Review, and elsewhere. She currently serves as a Contributing Editor for Entropy.


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A dozen poets. One a month. Nothing more.