In Search of a Lost Time that Never Existed by Iris McCloughan

braided person against colorful flowers

In Search of a Lost Time that Never Existed

This one orange was a girl
and it told me to describe it

of course I refused

I told it off with a viciousness that felt put on
the way today’s Chekhov always feels like a put on

I don’t take orders to locate myself
and I certainly don’t locate anything in relation to orange

And then I was several avenues away
and by several avenues I mean
I was in Paris, so suitable

for a poetic break, it signifies
perfectly my break into beautyspace

and that’s fine because my face
was beautyface, gold on the eyes
and a sharp rose on the cheeks

loose braids had taken over
my hair in a lightning siege

I wanted to meet the hawthorn trees

As I am a chatty type of flower this made sense

Marcel had told me they were great
at conversation and compliments

that they were generous
with the kind of secret
that makes you feel both
better than and at one with
everyone else in the world

so there I was in the Bois
and I realized fuck its November

the hawthorn blooms are long dead
or have yet to be born
depending on how you look at it

and I was of two minds, both
of which felt like being dramatic

so I broke down my face to a different beauty

more component, made of tear streak, mostly

I called in the snows from Sweden
to come take me away and they did
a bang-up job picking me
out of the teeth of Paris
where I was an irritant, asynchronous

and took me not to Scandinavia
but to somewhere on the great plains of America
where those particular snows had migrated
to give cover to the grandparents of the men
who taught me to know myself

and I said oh god not here for I was caught
in a myth that defined me as an exile

not in this dress I said
and the gown fell to the ground
purple taffeta on pretend tundra

and my whole body was suddenly free
of protrusion, or any protrusion
that was emerging was doing so
with the speed of a glacier

I had no need to locate myself
as I was inside an environmental envelope
the universe had licked with good intention

and that pink dimness which was the sun
through the fine paper the universe had chosen
made me settle down into a dream
of a single orange in Florida
ripening on a tree

and below a beautiful maybe man
who is maybe me
hums a song that’s maybe Madonna

but if it is it’s stretched out to taffy

the timing gone so sugar that
me and the orange can’t help but hold
each other’s breath though we can’t
help each other


Iris McCloughan is a trans* writer, artist, and performer in New York. They are the author of the chapbooks ‘No Harbor’ (L + S Press) and ‘Triptych’ (forthcoming from Greying Ghost). They were the winner of the 2018 Stanley Kunitz Prize from American Poetry Review. Their poems have appeared in Queen Mob’s Teahouse, ANMLY, juked, Gertrude, and elsewhere.

Suzy Exposito is a Cuban-Belizean writer, illustrator, and emo for life. She is the Latin music editor at Rolling Stone. You can follow her on Twitter at @HexPositive and @brujacore on Instagram.