BY MEGAN DENTON RAY
first days in Indiana with my tornado phobia
No real water here, no stream with secrets
or gardenias. No basement here, nothing underneath
for the midnight twister. There was a corner,
a fire station in my belly, a nested doll,
and pepperweed. No rejoicing, no floating about
like snowflakes, or glitter. That first Indiana storm
took me, bonking and chasing my tail, thrashing
and clotting—all talk talk talk. Ribbons
of pavement were twitching below. A little shed
was swirling. The wonderful lamp of a small town
flickered. Indiana, the ferment. Indiana,
the distant mother bringing thermometers
and warm washcloths. Indiana, the sad and pink
plump sky. I’ve been spun and honeyed. Filled
with windmills and brown bands of cattle.
That first Indiana storm took me quietly, bent
and in a terrible dress. Beach girl,
Southern girl, flint and dandelion girl,
toward the lighthouse girl with moonshine
and moss—a bed to let the body speak.
in the room of my depression
BY MEGAN DENTON RAY
Starving, and two months since the black walls
dropped their anchors, I whirl, tenderly—
arranging around me the great bones
and red ribbons. I have this strand of berries, now,
just gushing from my throat. The golden leaves
are my friends. But they are falling quickly, piles
as big as hiccups, soon, and pushing the persimmons
out the window. All night, I am the collared dove,
smearing my worries over the acres of sky.
I chase the horizon till it rolls and flames. I am
shining like a burn. I want to eat gingered pears
and pear pies, to see curtains of white chiffon. But,
I am afraid, again, of the mornings.
To wake me, there’s the inner click of wind,
the topmost tier of wisteria, begging me to write,
pushing me towards the other world, towards
the softening, the red gown behind me, gasping.
Out of the mother sea, out against the rise
of porcelain dollies, out of my grey knit sweaters
and into a shadowy forest, I think of the light rain
dripping down like satin stones. I stand in it
for a long time. Nameless, and in my final hour,
adore me: the heated grace, the silver potion.
Some wild, somewhere beauty still hangs in the lungs—
black lake, black sky, and even more, black shoes.
So black, this wispy, pretty heart turns, the top
quite gone. The pulp, the paperweight, the poppy,
the full set of teeth, so black I may be dying
for words, for a piece of yellow flower in my hair—
a bit of gold filling, a bit of risen sun.
Megan Denton Ray, a Tennessee native, is currently a poet in the MFA program at Purdue University. She is the recipient of the 2016 National Society of Arts and Literature Chapter Career Award. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Sun, Salt Hill Journal, Cimarron Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Otis Nebula, Ruminate Magazine, and elsewhere. She is an old-soul, grandmotherly-type young person who is trying to figure out how to be a real adult without losing her sense of childlike jubilation. She’s fascinated with taxidermy, exotic plants, and anatomical oddities. She has an identical twin sister, a tiny birthmark that looks like a clover, and lots of Earl Grey tea.
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