Maya McOmie ~ Four Poems


If you speak of me, I’ll be sneez­ing. The devil
is spo­ken for, and so am I. Each gos­sip, each
rumor: if only it were true. Usually no one
cares enough about me to say any­thing, kind
or cru­el. Since I sneeze so many times in a row,
is the gos­sip espe­cial­ly juicy? Do mul­ti­ple sources
of sto­ry emerge, or maybe a tale woven
espe­cial­ly long?       Someone’s out there, while
I expel air: cause, effect, the myth­ic root.
That’s all we want, though, isn’t
it—to be ref­er­enced, revered in the way
we’d like to be cat­a­logued and invented.
So we speak in the way we hope:
ves­sels of our furtive, peb­bly dreams.


I Lost Almost All the Photos I Took in England

There’s one errant pho­to of green
pas­ture that made it past erasure
but I can’t quite place it: I’m haunt­ed by its elusiveness,
the unre­mem­bered hill­side and stray gate
I’ll like­ly nev­er see again. The shade
of green the only thing still traceable.

I wish I could remem­ber, or I think I do
some small details: wind, cool, damp,

In the attempt­ing I’ve been a headful—
green and yel­low and blue,
graz­ing foliage and lake shores,
light­ly jour­neyed farm­land that con­tin­ued on
far­ther than I have time or sen­tences for.
The more I recall: dif­fer­ent fla­vored bags of chips
or the replace­ment bot­tles of shampoo,
do I over­write the hard­drive? But of course,
no phys­i­cal or illu­so­ry thing remains unaltered—

Should I unname to keep
the parts of that spring I sting into?

Enough to know that those days, I absorbed the same
whirring extend­ed play end­less­ly. That back then
I pre­ferred unweight­ed drapes, light and rosy,
to per­ma­nent fur­nish­ings: a jade green sofa,
linens with dusk or win­ter in its name.

And as the water swelled in the town square,
dancers in bright yel­lows spinning
with a mean­ing I had to chase,
I gazed and did not feel allud­ed to.


平成児 Heisei child

I am from com­pact kitchens
and greasy walls, week­end mornings
mak­ing pan­cakes, watching
the bub­bles pop one by one.

I am from perch­ing on bed­room win­dow ledges
morose in contemplation
star­ing out at small parks
where crows swoop and cats shit in sandy corners.

I am of the salt and the sea
and the sun­ny bay and the storm
and the break­ing wave upon rocks.
The fire­works bursting
above the dark water.
The unex­pect­ed jump back
from sparks falling on toes.

I am from the new grey apartment
with three residences.
I am the baby teeth thrown
below the house, sunk into the ground
or over rooftops, if I can reach it,
so that the new ones might grow
in the right direction.

I am the cool breeze below the floorboards
felt on an ear pressed to a knot­ted hole.
I am the cry­ing at
not being able to see a tv episode
because some base­ball game went extra long.
The flur­ry of dust after face-fall
in school­yard, trip­ping anoth­er sprinter.
The unable to ride magen­ta cher­ry bike
straight along the wood plank.
The ter­ri­fied of speeding
down a dusty hill.

I am the sound of no whales,
no orcas, no dol­phins, no swim­ming fish.
I am the kelp eat­en raw.
I am tiny buds of tight-bound
branch tips, iden­ti­fied and unknown,
that first arrive in spring.

I am the sur­pris­ing fragility
of the sum­mer but­ter­fly caught
between its papery, pol­lened wings.

I am the series of neon pink jumpropes
and jack­ets and lunch boxes.
I am the learn­ing apology.
I am the des­per­ate run­ning around
with sib­ling and cousin in the divvied-up dirt
before a new house is built.

I am the climb­ing of decades-old cher­ry tree,
now gone. The scal­ing of con­crete walls
encir­cling the lot.
I am the suck­ing on pieces of lemon
and melt­ing plain but­ter in my mouth
and the first real drink at a bar:
a lemon sour.

I am late nights spent self-affirming,
look­ing at pic­tures of celebri­ties with moles.
I am the phone alarm that rang
dur­ing the SAT and dis­qual­i­fied it.

I am the dis­cov­ery of music
and song from the hills that are alive
accord­ing to some pop­u­lar culture.
The books read on dark car rides.

Pencils with bro­ken lead,
doors that couldn’t slam closed.
I am the snow globe tossed
too fast and bro­ken. Balloons
burst upon contact
with cac­ti spines.

I am the scarf, knit itself.
I am the shared birth month
and promised jew­el­ry made of pearls:
nev­er need­ing them delivered.



Tell me what col­ors are, as if I’ve nev­er under­stood them.
Show me the smell of linen. Decide what new
cal­en­dar should hang on my wall.
Whisper from so far across the house
I lose the words. Get possessive
over objects, sum­mer pick­les marinating.

Me, I’m bare­ly slick enough. I’m no
enig­ma, car­ry no bur­den­some rings of existence.
I’m a sofa full of sul­fate. The mind thickened,
ultra­sen­si­tive to touch. A slice into time,
isn’t that the expres­sion? The fumes of hours, fused together.
As for the lan­guage of love: I’ll nev­er know.

I sup­pose I could have said that word more often—
Now, in my light­less room, I lift the pen again.

“平成児 Heisei child” uses the for­mat of poem famil­iar­ized by George Ella Lyon in “Where I’m From.”


Maya McOmie is a biracial/queer writer in Ohio via Portland, OR and Tokyo, Japan. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the Ohio State University, where she served as Poetry Editor for The Journal, and her work has appeared in Mantra Review and Beacon Quarterly, among oth­ers. Her poems attempt to process the com­plex­i­ties of iden­ti­ty, fam­i­ly, mem­o­ry and rit­u­al; when she isn’t writ­ing, she spends her time sleep­ing in and think­ing about snacks.