Leaving the Lights On
I am a fledgling twenty-something,
alive in the new year with a careful
haircut and a long-eared dog. I have
been kissing someone with glittery nails
and a single red braid; they offer
to teach me to hold a throwing knife,
drink green tea while their housemate
trips on PCP. My heart beats a little
faster around them and this time
it is not misinterpreted fear.
They do not wear red lipstick or
stretch vowels like condoms to fit
their round mouth. I know after
two weeks what they think of politics,
whether they like their grandma.
They know my middle name but
not what I call myself at night.
It is safer, I think, to love them in
broad daylight, solid as coffee dates,
to keep this love so quiet it will
leave behind no footsteps to
revisit as a ghost.
I have not swallowed my blue pills since
December, and the weeds are growing thick,
pushing through brick. The wilds are moving in
to reclaim the cleared spaces of my brain
like forests swallow farmland, like spiders
spin their webs through unsteady sheds –
It has been weeks since I’ve worn my retainer.
I can feel my teeth shifting like dinosaur bones
dislodged by the rumbles of the Earth. I am
going back to the Earth:
Leg hairs growing long, seedlings pushing up
through the pale clay of my skin. My chin
and cheeks seething with grease, my body
a pot for boiling the same primordial soup
I swam in before my legs grew long.
My lips all dust, unoiled, grey-flaking shale.
Missing their diamond bits, my earlobes
have been closing up, my flesh hungry for
empty spaces, my skin sucking at absence
like sinkholes at the air, my mind eating
Rachel Schmieder-Gropen is a sophomore at Mount Holyoke College where she is double majoring in French and English with a concentration in Creative Writing. She has published a collection of poetry and short stories and hopes to publish another in 2016.