“What Leaves and How I Loved What I Leave” by Emily Bowles

In Disturbed Areas, I Grow Like a Weed

My grandmother and I sought them out:
flowers that exploded into a universe of
purple stars
circling a
purple center.
We never learned their name.
We simply plucked them
from the cracks
in the sidewalk and
carried them with us.

I found them again,
thirty years later
with my daughter.
Our world was about to split open then,
another explosion
a universe of
purple stars
circling a
purple center.
I forgot about them until
they fell
out of my book,
brittle already.
They had lost their geometric precision,
that seductive spiralization that
made me
pick more, even when
my grandmother my daughter
told me
enough was/is enough.

It wasn’t, though.
I had to know their name.
The flower was/is ornamental,
a cover plant and
in disturbed areas,
a weed.

Ornamentation continues to cover up domestic disturbances.
Coverture didn’t stop in the nineteenth century.

 

Botanical Designs/Stay, Man

Linnaean botany was, at first, a suitable subject for women, whose botanical drawings became part of their parlor-room portfolio.    A skillful hand could replicate each line.    Replication is too much like reproduction, especially when pistils and stamen are labeled, especially when pencils and stories are libeled.

Botanical designs entice me, and I draw pistils
the color of fire.
I draw the stamen.
Stay, man,
my penciled-in lines
beg him, until I see
the rest of the root,
an ugly,
gnarled thing
I cannot (you will not)
pull out.

It must be time
for weeding
not a wedding.

 

Sterne Passages

“I cannot get out,”
the skylark said
in Sterne,
then
Austen.

same walls | different bars
same bars | different walls
and bathroom stalls

look!
look anew
look
a new
servitude.

 

What You Want (Is Not Me)

Those fantasies of yours
do not include

me

elliptically marking the circles we run around in,
the spaces I do not inhabit, the desires I cannot read

pause where it hurts, where I am not enough to meet
you
your needs

what you want is
missing / me.

 

Swift’s Goddess Criticism

She
dressed in scraps,
fragments
of language.
His words,
hers.
Satire
of
on
the female
body,
never minds
  (never mind, she thought, as she
re-
dressed
herself as
for
the defense
against
Criticism).

 

Switch

You turn me on
Einstein
Frankenstein
a shock
a charge
assaults my body, brain
until
either darkness or death
resumes its power over me.

 

Liar

This is a layer
a liar
like me
[please like me
please
me]
needs, a liar a layer a lair
where I inhabit
a space, a story that
I
can-
not
not
end.

 

I Never Wanted Moor

after Emily Dickinson and for the woman who read her with me

I never
saw a
moor
never
wanted
more

(for you, I do).

Please,
take
more
be
more
than me.

I never
saw the
sea
never
saw what

you see.
wave to me
what a
wave
must
be.

And here is the book Kolleen mentioned: Gloss by Ida Stewart.

And here is Kolleen’s book A Live Thing, Clinging With Many Teeth

Editor’s Note: We would like to apologize for any unintentional misgendering of Joey Gould, whose correct pronouns are they/them. We are deeply sorry for the oversight.