Back to Issue Twenty-Two.

i have come to demand the light i'm used to

BY MEG FREITAG

Edith, I’m done with things
That are bigger than me.
The moon can go fuck itself,
For instance. The moon with its eyes

Full of unkind marbles, its hands
Like two slabs of flank meat
On an iridescent tray. I used to
Think the moon was mine

And shy, how it followed me
Everywhere, at a distance.
One night each month
The moon would not show up.

I’d call and call, thinking I’d done
Something to scare it away. Edith,
I’m done with things that don’t
Come when I call them.

When I was younger I studied
Grief, like how an artist studies art
History. Trying to see what others
Had already done with it

In order to do it better. I would
Walk around at night watching
Grief as it shone, blue
As milk, out the windows

Of people’s houses. Edith, I’m afraid
All the time. Edith, my life is a long sequence
Of self-fulfilled prophecies.
When I found you

Beneath the kitchen radiator, what was
Left of you, like a teaspoon
Of strawberry jam, it all made so much sense,
That feeling. For a while I wasn’t afraid

Of anything. Truth is, I feel safest
When I feel lonesome. To truly love
Someone is spooky as hell. I’m always
Waiting for a roof beam to fall

On his head, for a pack of wolves
To get in through the doggy door while
We’re sleeping, or for him to leave me
At the gas station. For him

To just get in the car and drive
Away while I’m standing in line
With a pocketful of quarters, waiting
To buy two Diet Dr. Peppers.

 

 

sometimes it's easier to see into the future than it is to see into the self

BY MEG FREITAG

I have been lying a lot lately.
I texted him to say I had a dream about him,
Made up a whole premise. A post-apocalyptic
Waterpark somewhere outside

The Ocean City, New Jersey of my childhood, vaguely
Fourth of July. I wrote the story all out
In my head, so the facts would line up
Should he have any questions:

The rides were in striking disrepair, like an ancient
Graveyard dug up, the wretch-sweet
Stench of long-ripe fruit, spots of blood
Along the hem of my dress

From where the green flies had bitten
My legs. He had two of my brown
Bobby pins hooked onto the pocket of his shirt.
The sky glowed

A silky purple in the potassium noonlight,
Like we were inside
A plum and some needful giant
Was holding a flashlight to it, trying to see

Through the skin, checking for worms. I wonder what it means
That he didn’t have any questions,
That I never got to tell him any of this.
You, Edith, are the only one that’s heard

This story. And so let me just say
In my defense, that no lie is ever entirely
Invention. Sometimes
I really do feel like I am living

Inside a piece of fruit. That this is why
I have such a sweet
Tooth, and move through my days slow as an ant
In sap. Sometimes I really do

Feel like I’m about to be consumed
By something I can’t see. Cats have been known to eat
The people that once cared for them
When left alone in a room

With their bodies. I am not naïve, Edith.
I suspect you would not hesitate
To do the same to me. Appetite, 
The gorgeous white stallion galloping

Through our bodies every
Few hours. How much bigger it is
Than any of us. I once watched
Six daddy longlegs pinwheel the ceiling

Above his bed as he told me in his half-
Sleep that I was a knockout, one-of-a-kind,
The Real Deal
. That he wanted to take me
On a cruise ship to Nassau, reserve

The honeymoon suite. What tiny
And benign tumbleweeds. What rented tenderness
We’re allowed in the in-between moments.
Trust is an act

Of imagination. First we must imagine a world
Without appetites. Edith, when you die,
I will all but forget you within a month.
I thought it would take much longer

But I saw into the future
And it doesn’t. So much goes on
Without you. The satellites continue
To make promises they can’t keep.

 

 

Meg Freitag was born in Maine. She has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers. You can find her poems in Tin House, Boston Review, Black Warrior ReviewThe Collagist, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. Her first book, Edith, was selected by Dorianne Laux as winner of the 2016 BOAAT Book Prize, and is forthcoming from BOAAT Press this fall. She currently lives in Santa Cruz, California. 

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