The Autumn leaves of the maple tree

died. Standing at the tired roots, the basement pottery wheel still spinning,

I vulnerably vowed that the red finger with a long nail growing out of your eardrum

sliced the “I” in half and stuck the pieces back together sideways

into an “H,” that you heard something about hell

when I said something about us.


What always changes

doesn’t. Faithful, I parted my lips to release

the substance of things,                                                           “You (mis)heard me.”

and you heard everything

but one wor(l)d.


Words are creative fingers that slither

in throats, striving for vomit

or to make all things new,

trustworthy and

(                       ).


They are in skulls, nyctinastic,

ready to flick a new Gaia

back into the light, out of three tunnels,

where the power of life and death can rest in peace

as sound.


You didn’t hear                                                            (“It’s not over”)

again. Angry, you were not obligated to listen,

and it was Christian for me to apologize

for your deafness, for lacking a miracle—

out of love.


You thought the fingers were mine, for they were made

in my image. I should have spoken

outside the house we shaped children in

as a stranger, for everyone hears correctly

what matters not. Central,

I should have said that I hated you.

After promises of affection, wondrously,

you would have finally heard

what wasn’t hard to believe


and been free to live

with a sliced extremity                                     floating within.


Now, far apart, I hope that bits don’t grow like maple seeds

or letters that could float in dark, deep, and cerebrospinal waters

and bump-merge in(to) inner speech,

but rather that fragments miraculously become

that which never existed—nothing—

metaphoric parentheses which do not suggest “fill in,”

a hope which can only be desired if

the hope is lost. At the very least,

is it wrong to think (and think and think)

wor(l)ds could be noise?


O.G. Rose

A finalist for the 2020 UNO Press Lab Prize and 46th Pushcart Nominee, Rose’s creative works appear at The Write Launch, Allegory Ridge, Streetlight Magazine, Ponder Review, Iowa Review online, The William and Mary Review, Assure Press, Toho Journal online, West Trade Review, ellipsis, Poydras Review, O:JA&L, and Broken Pencil.

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