I did not think about running away even once.
Be proud of me—I stayed in my body
and stole glances of myself in the mirror.
My rented red dress, my lovingly short hair.
I would tell my past self, the one from last night:
you have not lived until you’ve heard your beloveds
read poetry in the banquet hall, until you’ve heard
frogs sing behind them as dusk seeped in, blackberry wine
kissing linen. You do not need a father, I tell my inner child,
because Cassie loaned you a leather jacket that smells like fatherhood
and that is enough. My gradually arthritic hand
pressed to my chest as Lillian channels Frank O’Hara.
The other cupped over my mouth when Emily says
that fleeing loneliness often looks like staying in place.
A resounding yes to all of this, despite my weathered instincts.
Poets smoking under a not-quite-full moon, poets searching
for frogs and calling for geese. A delight, my only religion,
everything worth staying for, a delight. After, Cassie follows me
to my front door just to unzip my gown. Emmy kisses my forehead
four times and says, dream good dreams. I remember to wash the makeup off,
put the vermillion back on its hanger. My beloveds, I’d keep a lighter
between my breasts for you any time. My beloveds, you are figs and geodes.
With our heads outside and the rest of us zipped into the tent,
you tell me to close my eyes for ten seconds.
When I opened them: an unknowable amount of stars,
faraway clusters we’d never see from our greedy city.
I must have choked on my lungs. Reached for your hand
but accidentally slapped your thigh. Speechless,
the first men on the moon said, and suddenly I understood
in the smallest way. I am small but not suffocating.
Grounded, sleeping on the ground, safer than
I ever remember. Our first date was a month ago.
We’d laid next to the river and mimicked the current,
my hand between your T-shirt and the warm of your back,
your ear pressed to my heart. I didn’t mean to ask it aloud:
where did you come from?
Only recently, a wasp died in the center of my life—
and now here you are, like so many delicious fig seeds.
Lyd Havens is the author of Chokecherry (Game Over Books, 2021). Her poetry has previously been published in Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and New Delta Review, among others. Lyd lives in Boise, Idaho.
Rachel Browne is a musician, writer and visual artist living somewhere in New England. She writes and performs in the band Field Mouse, which she formed after graduating from the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College in 2009. She is currently earning a Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University. Follow along for the unlikely event of an update at rachelbrowne.net and on Twitter at @rachelbrowne.