Notes on How I Could Not Touch You

by Leslie Grollman




in a drivel
in a bull in a rumbling in a hum
in a peppermint
in a frame in a soup
in a humbling in a look
in a quark
in a rust
in a bra
in a stop in a sky
in a why
in a body
in a zillion
in a bardo
in a jiffy
in a lux
in a yonder
in a vortex


or I thought an ‘us’ would be treif
or what would they say


I could have told you about my childhood
How we chased fireflies
after Dodge-balling in the emptied streets
Ball-and-jacks on linoleum floors
Pickup-stick dreams


I was stone, but not rounded

I could not see me then

I thought since I was stone I had to be thrown


I was a little Fanny Brice who could sing and tap dance into any heart,
Funny Fanny, I was nicknamed, or I am making that up. I could invent any
story, perform it as if I believed it was true and given from the skies. And you’d
believe it. I would pose and perch, spin on a dime. Then crush your laughter
like peppercorns in a mill with one twist.


In sleep I can reach to you


I could have told you about my fear
about a world I might create:
Me: a stilled cloud with too much rain
My sad eyes scorned like a crisis
How I’d burn it all: charred remains make headlines



F is for fake, forgery, forgotten. F is Fanny forgiving or not.
F is like Fall only frozen. Framed. For something done and
something conspired. F doesn’t hold anything. Its space is
small and fenestrated; one can fall through. F is for fasting,
and fast like flight or flailing. F says forget it, forget about
it. Finally. Finality. Forest my fantasies so someone else
can live them.


What if your hand had pressed
through my skin
wound around my spine,
like how overgrowth surrounds an abandoned spire,
breaks through borders, shatters foundations —
Your hand like a comb might have unraveled
my matted sinew,
unmuddled my eye —


My Saturn eats regret
its rings: a clean slate
it spins, scott-free


If nothing to push


a wave dies in the ocean


meeting itself.
It rolls


asking for something—

for anything—

to touch


The prose chunk that begins ‘F is for fake’ is after Claire Wahmanholm

Leslie Grollman’s work appears in Streetcake, BeZine, Sweet Lit, Ellipsis Zine, Moist Poetry Journal, Yolk, Spoken Word Scratch Night, Writing Utopia 2020 Anthology, The Selkie, Together: An Anthology, Thimble, Nailed, Pathos, elsewhere, and is forthcoming in bath magg, and Cordite Poetry Review. She earned an MSc Creative Writing, Poetry, with Distinction, from the University of Edinburgh in 2020 at age 70.

Photography by: Jordan Steranka