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[Attempt 1]

 

Climb through the window
so I can touch your hair.
We breathe into the space

between us so grass can spread
across it without alarming anyone.
We will not eat lotus

but bergamot that plants
the sun inside us. We wager
it will grow timber we can braid

with blackbirds & gardenias
to build a house—neither alive
nor dead—in our margin.

 

[Attempt 2]

You cannot be left alone
in the garden where blackbirds
eat seeds out of your palm.

We grow bergamot to leave
for our ancestral demi-gods.
Gardenias turn blue at the threat

of frost. They wager
their tincture against the grass
blanching in surrender.

We etch faces into the timber
as we build, their powder
alighting on our fingers.

 

[Attempt 3]

 

We pray to the gods of bergamot
but our hands are filled
with gardenias. The grass

is too chatty. It taunts the blackbirds
flying into the house to escape.
Silence eats our images

so no one can see us here.
We were not supposed to build
a house between the plow

of the living & the furrows
of the dead. The seeds
we wager rattle in our palms.

 

[Attempt 4]

 

Our fingernails wilt away
with the frost’s approach.
We photograph our hands

to remember what they can build.
Our lungs have had their fill
of gardenias—they want to go back

to wingblack silence.
Since silence is all we have
to wager, we set it against

our timber musings. The air
is neither alive nor dead but still
I cannot touch you through it.

 

 

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Jessica Beyer is a writer and educator from Baltimore, MD. Her poems have appeared in Muse/AThe Adroit JournaldecomPTIMBERSplit Rock Review, and other journals and anthologies. She is seeking a publisher for her first collection. She has an MFA from NYU and a BA from Emory University. You can find her waterskiing, SCUBA diving, and giving in to wanderlust whenever possible, but also online at jessicabeyer.com and @JessicaHBeyer.

 

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