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.