Love Poem: To Deep Rivers
My love waded through the creek barefooted & hoped for mud & watched for glass
& pressed fingers to dry rocks baking above the waterline. No ticks in the creek,
no chiggers in the creek, my love can’t swim
but the creek is hip-high at best & it’s far from best in August.
My love slipped & fell & got mud up her back but that’s expected.
My grandfather used to fish on the river & took a long long pole out on the boat with him
& there are sinkholes in the river dozens of meters deep, you’ll shuffle along,
all anyone sees is the top of your head
& all anyone does is pray to God you come back up.
I lost a great-uncle in the river before I was born & my great-aunt married an alcoholic after
& although he wasn’t bloodkin
that shit’s deep in my veins, all the way back, so I have to be careful.
when I wasn’t careful, I had to be drunk, completely unbridled drunk;
when I wasn’t drunk, I had to be repentant;
when I wasn’t repentant, I had to be atheistic, cannot believe in myself –
& when I cannot believe in myself I begin
to look down into the deep, deep hole that is alone,
drowning in green-blue water, turned inward with no love,
no one to say please don’t. I love you. I think you should stop.
But my love is sober, cautious, scoot-footing, hunting for shade & berries, hunting
for ways back upstream.
Love Poem: For Odysseus, If He Were On Tinder
while you were looking at me I was weaving a net of Saran wrap. it’s pliable.
it’s going to catch us both.
while you were looking at me
I measured the distance between us, the pair, and also us and the ground.
I made a triangle out of needing to know if you are into me.
ten years. eighteen stories. did you know that’s only eighty feet?
I’m not good at math but I’ve been sitting at this loom waiting for you
for an entire lifetime. in another life I’m Penelope
and you probably brought home a supernatural form of chlamydia.
you fell in love with the space in other people. you fell in love with minnows and sardines
I’m the net, not the holes.
I have teeth and thumbs.
for a lifetime, you fell in love with the gaps in other women
and I ran up
to man after man,
bucket in hand,
to bail out the most basic gestures of humanity, hoping
they might warm me with their gaze,
these glimpses of moments. I stretched like a twiggy tree
toward the hope they would value me
for the duration of that wane space
between an eye opening and closing
in a blink.
I don’t know why I pretend you have been the only one
away, and that I have always been waiting. maybe I need to believe
that you are the sun,
and the sun would never notice a single plant
waiting or not waiting
to be fed. maybe
I don’t believe anyone benefits
from my hands moving and making.
while you were looking at me I decided
the ground is closer than we believe.
honey, I have made a hammock
to string beside the sea
so we can sway in warm wind together, should we choose,
should we make it that far.
Emily Blair is a queer Appalachian poet and blue-collar scholar originally from Fort Chiswell, Virginia. She currently teaches community college and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her first chapbook of poetry, We Are Birds, is available from Dancing Girl Press. Her forthcoming and most recent poems can be found in The Pinch Journal, Riggwelter Press, Occulum Journal, and Cahoodaloodaling Magazine, among others.
Artwork by: Robin Basalaev-Binder