“A Short Play Featuring Neural Pathways”

This poem won Peoples Choice in 2-Day Poem Contest 2023

You: a battleship, set adrift by the faculties
of your mind, unmoored & searching
for a life preserver, which you found in

me: a scarecrow, overall-patch girl, enough
straw to float us both. You came with a seam
ripper, through use of which we discovered

a third thing, unnamed: the flicker of our selves
concatenate beneath denim & flannel, two halves
of an annealing whole.

The first house we shared, where squirrels colonized
the hollow subfloor & terrorized our terrier. The 1860s
insulation delivered mornings so brisk

our glass coffeepot threatened to shatter & I kidnapped
your goosedown slippers, last year’s Christmas gift,
to save my toes from the chill of kitchen hardwood.

Act One
We took turns peeling off layers of skin
while the sanguine moon threw October sky
into syzygy, wound up all sinew & marrow

howling harmony on an unscripted anthem
& gadding about all night to collapse into
one another, spent but exceedingly alive.

Act Two
Brimming with ennui, persistent
phosphenes & inattention of the first degree,
you began to sink somewhere I couldn’t reach,

sending abyssalpelagic telegrams that said
things like I’M FINE or do you see it? the chasm?
until I was forced to concede.

An unexpected but not unwelcome addition
in tidy ten-milligram capsules, claiming to be
the key we’d long thought lost.

Act Three
To love you is a complex mathematics & the quiz
will take place every minute from now until your ligaments
or mine elect to give up their bone-clasp

so I learn the operations, a clumsy undertaking,
slowly inking the proof for your heart in the thumping,
breathing chambers of my own.