Becoming April Third
I keep thinking I must be patient this spring,
patient with the changing days that smell like bonfire,
a wild Halloween wind. April is all contradiction,
moss and sap and hormones,
dogwood blossoms, the clamor of wasps.
I can learn from this month. April takes its time
letting us know how it’s going to be.
April bursts at the seams, puts on some gaudy colors:
ruby giants, flame azalea. A drama queen
whirling into sudden storms.
I wore a dress today, and sat for hours
in a nest of grass, letting sugar ants crawl over my feet,
lazy, like they had nowhere better to go.
I watched barefoot boys climb trees. I’m always
watching boys, wondering at their ease
and their awkward, the way the river runs
after first thaw. The tops of my arms burned
and I did nothing. I’m bad about reminders.
Like correcting people. Like saying
‘they,’ not ‘she,’ so my friends remember
I’m plural and confusing. I was scared today,
because soon my own boyhood will unpack and stay awhile,
because already my own voice is the only part of myself
I still recognize. Soon I will jab myself in the thigh
and leaf out like a tree. Think cicada
when you think of me, a dry husk, the rest
already flighted and elsewhere.
As a kid, I peeled the skin from my feet.
I was a birch tree, but uglier, I tried
to climb out of myself. It’s still hard to stay
in one place; sometimes I cry
when I have to get out of the car.
Think of me as grass stain, skinned knee,
sliver of new moon. My friend showed me a video today,
some footage of ants trying to drink from raindrops.
She said, Look, they think their problems are so big.
What It Feels Like
Because I am a gnarled hand of ginger
a fishing hook scar
a contorted filbert of desire
I cannot be regular about sex
I step on a bee and I orgasm
When touched I am distant as a shrimp boat
lit up off the coast of the bay
My gender is a controlled burn spitting cinders giving nothing back
Is the black binding showing itself
from underneath the white blouse
Is a single peach in the blue china bowl that belonged to my grandmother
Is oregano and basil crushed to scent the kitchen
Is an alphabet waiting to be recited in a gentle voice
My first time there was a couch in the backyard from the neighbor’s curb
which wasn’t where It happened but some kind of magic did
It rained all day but the couch never got wet
His hands sprouted roses
Birds brought us the softest clover
Living inside a dream is easier when you can drive home after
My gender is a nightmare like they meant it in the old days
The demon bareback on the black horse
galloping into my sleep
I am never well-rested
I am never a pitcher of clear water I am the swamp and the sphagnum
I am the white cereus I bloom just once so watch closely
I am rose of jericho or I am spike moss
I die and die and come back when you least expect me
reborn and thirsty
new inside each time
Milo Gallagher is a writer and artist from the marshlands of South Carolina. A graduate of Warren Wilson College, they co-authored the chapbook Heavy Creatures along with Emmanuelle Post. Their work has appeared in The Kenyon Review and online at FreezeRay Poetry and The Grief Diaries. You can follow them at www.philodendra.tumblr.com.