I thought I heard someone yelling outside
the night we first tongue kissed in the attic
but was distracted by how he pulled
his tee shirt over his head, the impossible shape
he took: deep grooves of his ribs like a Victorian
birdcage or loom, shock of those sightless eyes
of the male chest. Dogwood shoulders,
shoulders like bridges of glass,
the hair of his skinny body an overlay
of black eyelet lace, such spare silk stitches.
The moon blushed and fell through
the skylight and something was said to cover
my awe, as we passed paint-stripping gin
between us. And in the silences, I blessed
the juniper berries, the trees felled for those
creaking floorboards, prayed reverently
to the dust-cloaked objects stored around us,
lamps with bare bulbs, dressers beneath sheets.
Sparkle of the bottle so white in that dark,
every cell of my body awake & vibrating.
I looked at him and knew no one had ever
wanted to be just his friend. Tattered
skateboarding shoes, his ear’s Pythagorean
cartilage & gold stud, teeth like a destroyed
piano, abdomen’s strategy of muscles, visible
for his frailty. I was a monster covered in eyes
to take him in. And he looked like a quartz statue,
like Cheltenham High’s holy of holies, like summer
vacation. The cicadas that were larva when I was born
came crawling out of the ground screaming
that year, their bodies like precious stones
wrapped in gold leaf. An army of desperate noise.
The way things are planted and forgotten
until they return. And tonight, I go back,
rushing to make it in time. I stand outside
& scream up toward the unlit window
but nobody seems to hear.
Aimee Seu holds an MFA from the University of Virginia’s Creative Writing MFA Program for Poetry. Her manuscript Velvet Hounds has been selected as recipient of the 2020 Akron Poetry Prize and is forthcoming through the University of Akron Press. She was recipient of the 2019 University of Virginia Academy of American Poets Prize, the 2016 Temple University Academy of American Poets Prize, the Temple University 2016 William Van Wert Award and recipient of the Mills College Undergraduate Poetry Award. Her manuscript was a semifinalist for the 2020 Jake Adam York Prize through Copper Nickel. Her poem “The World” was a semifinalist in the 2019 New Guard Vol IX Knightville Poetry Contest judged by Richard Blanco. Her poem “Ode to Jameson” was shortlisted for Redivider’s Beacon Street Prize. Her work has appeared or has forthcoming publications in Ninth Letter, BOAAT, Pleiades, Redivider, Raleigh Review, Minnesota Review, Blacklist, Wildness Journal, Harpur Palate & Runestone Magazine. She is a Philadelphia native.