Flirting With Florence
There is no more
bread or milk or bottled water.
We are under
a tropical storm warning. At the third
grocery store, she texts me
her bucket list – car sex, piano sex,
public bathroom sex,
hurricane sex. I ask
if she wants any help
with the last one
and buy the last 6-pack
of water, hope it will be enough,
I don’t know if it’s safe,
walking through the pines between
her door and mine.
I don’t know if we were ever
safe. We drink our anxieties
away and all pretense
evacuates. Her skin tastes
like whiskey and abandon.
The window endures
the torrents. My tongue
is eager, but clumsy
drunk and too tired
to finish. The alarm
rings and I wake up
flooded and still woozy. A hole
in my deck, sticks
in the yard, and her
in my bed. The damage
is minimal. We still have
power. I think,
Lindsay Cortright (she/her) is a queer writer, cat mom, researcher, and curious human who enjoys reading multiple books at once and conversations with strangers. You can find her on Instagram (@lindsay.cortright) and Twitter (@lindsayinpublic), as well as her website: LindsayCortright.com.
To The Black Hole and Back
She spoke from inside the closet and hadn’t turned on the light. She had started to choose his outfits, even though he didn’t want her to.
I love you to the black hole and back.
He had tried explaining to her once that there is no coming back from a black hole, that the whole point of a black hole was that nothing could escape from it.
She picked out his tie, pink cherry blossoms surrounding a blue hummingbird, and draped it over the chestnut brown pole at the foot of the bedframe.
But you couldn’t love me to the black hole and back.
Yes, I could.
But it doesn’t make any sense.
Yes, it does.
She didn’t answer him but went back and chose a gingham shirt of cornflower blue and seagull gray that he would have never chosen himself.
Because I just do.
But it doesn’t even make sense.
She chose a pair of brown corduroys and a black leather belt that they had cut extra holes into.
I love you to the white hole and back then.
She couldn’t quite find the socks she wanted, so she settled on a pair of gray running socks with a hole in one toe. She walked over to him, ran her hands over his head, where the hair used to be, then down his sunken cheeks.
I don’t know if a white hole exists.
His hands were shaking as he pulled the shirt around him, struggled with buttons he couldn’t quite slip through their holes.
Yes, they do.
She put her hands over his, her tiny fingers soft, nails in need of cutting.
If you say so.
Together they buttoned the buttons, before she helped him slide each withered leg into the pants, wrapped the belt through each loop, pulled it tight. Both of them recognized they would need another hole soon.
I say so.
She didn’t know how to tie a tie. Instead, she looped it around his neck, crossed it over in a lopsided knot, in a way that made the hummingbird look like it was being hanged in a noose of cherry blossoms. She looked at him. Satisfied, she left.
Throughout it all, he only wanted some space. The kind of space that could envelop the moon. The kind of space to fill craters and caverns, that could swallow you whole. The kind of space kids could dream about.
He sank back into the bed, and closed his eyes. He thought he could see it.
I love you to the white hole and back, then, too.
Brian McVety is a teacher who lives in western Massachusetts with his wife and three daughters. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Sinking City, New Pop Lit, Little Old Lady Comedy, Apeiron Review, and Blue Lake Review. He can be followed on Twitter @bmcvety.
Something In the Way
the sharp rain rubs the earth raw
bending buttercup stalks, compelling clover to
bow with simpering mendacity, reminds me
of your face and all the ways I want to punch it.
even in the heat, the rain is cold, leaving
a chill on everything it touches.
its slick-fat drops promise bold rebirth, a watering baptism
(a bare-bottom drowning, as it were) mending with mud
and broken brittle leaves, the leavings of
yesterday’s failures, churning up all the old anger.
then there’s something in my memory of you
reminiscent of the moisture of decay
and how it creeps between the boards, swelling them with rot
before the homeowner even notices disaster.
your face is like that, and your eyes that disturb
all the eyes, both beasts and breeze, blinking back at you.
(what is it in the lingering scent of last night’s rain,
and the sweet, sad green clinging to bare spaces
that reminds me of how you used to say my name?)
even daring-bright sunshine can’t unclench my hands.
Sheila Stowers is Associate Director of the Office of Behavioral Research and Evaluation at Arkansas State University, a job that has nothing to do with poetry. She lives in a small cabin with an excessive number of cats. When she isn’t at her day job or writing poetry, she is taking care of goats and chickens. Her work has appeared in Dissonance and CentraLit. You can follow her on Instagram @stowers3110.