Layla Lenhardt is Editor in Chief of 1932 Quarterly. She has been most recently published in Rust + Moth, Glass Mountain, Poetry Quarterly, and Pennsylvania Literary Journal. She is a 4th place finalist in Poetry Super Highway’s 2019 Poetry Contest. www.laylalenhardt.com
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Layla Lenhardt and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
The only way out is down, so I’ll get low.
For you, it’s the night. I haven’t stopped
shaking. My tectonic plates are clashing,
crashing, I’m quaking. I follow the riverbed,
remind myself that I can’t tame you. That
you are a sunrise and I’ve learned not to
fear nature, but the crumbling asphalt instead.
I want to collect your violets. I have a purse full
of flowers and a million reasons to say no.
Skin looking like moonlight. I ritualize my mornings,
I stir your name into my tea. I understand you
like you are my mother tongue. I still keep amethyst
in my pocket, Sharon Van Etten
on repeat. Chant affirmations from afar. I’m hunting
bones, making rings from rocks and ribcages.
Having you would be like summoning an ocean
in a landlocked state, so I’ll meet you in that
pretty space, somewhere between sleeping
How It Ends
It was the forgotten month where we laid buried
beneath our bedsheets while the day burned
out like a supergiant outside of our windows,
shadows of our palm tree getting long
in the golden hour sun.
The month where our throats burned like we ran
a cold marathon, where our bodies twisted
from the heat, unrelenting fever dreams. We milled
around the island counter, circles worn into the hardwood.
We ate twirlers we couldn’t taste, drank wine we couldn’t
smell, our lips purpled. We questioned our headaches.
We did chalk drawings atop mountains of pillows. We writhed
in pain, we slept facing each other. Love was a vesper
fog emanating from us, 104 degree steam. Chapped
lips. Afternoons looking down from the balcony. Wishing
for the before. Praying for the energy. We decorated out cell
with taxidermied insects. The front door threshold, our only warden.
I used to think grieving
was linear, until
I struggled to remember
the timbre of your voice.
I had never been haunted
by my own choices,
had never known the wild furies
of holding regret in fistfuls like
grains of sand. Had never
been buried by grains of sand.
Your absence is an heirloom
that will be passed down
for generations and I’ve read
that elephants bury their dead,
only, we sat Shiva after, and I wore
the trench coat I ripped that time
you carried me down Bridge Street
when we laughed so hard you
dropped me. And then picked
me up and kissed me all over.
My grief blooms like a poppy
in the morning sun. It wilts in the
afternoon. And in the evening,
its petals are open arms, pulling me in.
Jonathan Hayes lives by the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz, California.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Jonathan Hayes and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Enter the Poem
No style = all styles
Poured into the cup
It takes the shape of the cup
As in the poem