The Sky Isn’t the Only Thing That’s Endless
Nearly 1 in 10 women in the United States (9.4%) has been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime –
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
“Making out with you is like running a marathon,”
you said falling off my body and I giggled,
our stomachs bubbling with Kung Pao Tofu
and soppy fried rice. You had the funniest nose,
like a fishline yanked it down and a boxer trained
against the bridge—Sure, I love you, Jackie-Boy,
Jackie-Jackie Bird, who said I didn’t love poor old Jackie-Bird?
I felt a pang in my gut— the first you’ll give
as my lips felt electrocuted by thought of molding
the phrase. But I did, then you did too and first love
was not the earth swaying its shoulders, nor fireworks
rumbling in my chest. It was a soft laugh followed by
a muffled burp till we fell asleep in adolescent wings.
We grew up together in that year and half as Sundays
melted from those indie folk bands you loved to carving
pipes out of carrots. You saw me snake out of my girly skin
into one of a fresh woman with breasts and soft hips, giggling
less than we used to but refusing to give up on that first
silvery moment. We suffered fits of silence and broken
plates. You got a turtle tattoo from a shadowy friend and I
got attention from other boys. We were like two corner parts
of a 1,000 piece puzzle jamming our bones together until
an edge broke and we could lie together in mangled harmony
with cracked shapes and frayed faces.
Our hourglass choked on sand till we both
saw the final curtain tracing the ground and I tried
to slip under the cloth but you caught my ankle
to disintegrate whatever shape we still held.
There I was with the bitter taste to an untimely
Bildungsroman— bent over, legs numb and throat
stale from whimpers, the same ones you muffled
ten years prior under a hot palm and the betrayer…
Was it nostalgic for you? That little boy now man
found an asylum, transferring past horrors onto—into me.
With each push, you ceded your fear into me,
drop by drop, until the dilapidated entirety
throbbed in my stomach and you were free
Fear has a funny smell. It’s the same singeing aroma
dogs can route. Four years later, I can feel it like a
Tallahassee summer storm pooling behind my ear.
You wonder how far I can open my mouth, the distance
my words can run—but my lips are a deadbolt, rusted with
salt water and know-how. Don’t worry, I hid the latchkey
in your honor all those years ago.
But my fingers run wild like boars as my skeleton spews
stories my mouth cannot. No one is safe when bones
These days, I hear your mother’s health is better
than when we were in love; that your brother
sold his painting for fifteen hundred bucks and some
change; that your sister has a shiny job in New York City.
These days, you’re an invisible man running
to havens and hideaways— a stained couch
on the outskirts of Atlanta, a wheezing truck
driving nowhere fast, warm flesh— perhaps
warmer than I am now.
These days, there is only forgiveness when fear
draws home and when this epic lies at your curling toes,
I hope the gauzy clouds shape like my soft hips, Jackie-Boy,
my Jackie-Jackie Bird and you reclaim your doing,
kneeling like a king.
Tobacco and Cedarwood
He’s dead and his leather jacket
lays stolen somewhere up North.
Truth settles in your neck— yeah,
the achy spot—and digs and digs
and I found nothing of use,
no stories, no memoirs,
nothing— like Grandpa Rambo
was just that,
a stolen leather jacket.
Three black sparrows shared
a windowsill the day he died,
Ma said and that’s all
her memory saved
—Oh, I ate a sweet Gala apple
that day too—it don’t do no good
squeezing memory like a wrung towel.
What comes out will come out
and drip onto your toes, then dry up
like it was never water to begin with.
Maybe I’ll give up the search,
call off the dogs, and buy her faux—
rub some tobacco and cedarwood
on it, let the rain beat it—maybe
Ma will want one then.
She got his hooked nose and
moonshiner teeth, likely got
his grit too. Grandma was never
one to give the Lord a migraine.
I could scare the sparrows and drown the
fruit—still no feat— give the good prayer,
and say it ain’t true, ain’t it nothings
to a piece of cowhide, chalk-full
of sentimentality of a man I
never met, yet smokes Backwoods
in a rocking chair every time
I close my eyes.
I wish it was burnt to ash,
that some lowlife scum ditched it
on Highway 75 and it drowned
down Mad river.
I wish leather could die before
you could even remember it smelled
And all the idle weeds that grow
They say the owl was a baker’s daughter. Lord, we know what we are but not what we may be
– William Shakespeare
I’m a hundred year old cobblestone
on the corner of Edgewood & Elizabeth Street,
the ones you always
slated with wet concrete.
Poking between my fractured rib, a garden
of white flowered weeds sunbathe,
the ones you always
wanted to trim.
My ferns are unkempt, tangled
caked with dried mud at the roots,
the ones you always
I’ve got daffodils and lilies
and peonies and whatever flower
my mother loved and hated
sprouting from my freckles
—the ones you tried to pluck
and keep in your dresser.
I am not a shapely cube of grass
nor am I your wild honeysuckle
you extort for my sweet
none of which was ever yours
to drink, to pluck, to water,
to trim, or to slate.
Yes, I’m overgrown.
I still grow.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Julia Watson is a senior at Florida State University studying Creative Writing and International Affairs with a concentration in Political Science. Her poems are featured in Asterism Literary Journal and Pegasus Literary Magazine.