By Emma Aylor
Plane trees in the park outside my window
press vegetable darkness down in sheets.
The people on my street shout
to no one and cover their faces
in the thin sky. I flew southeast, and the land
changed gently: atmosphere thickened and unsmoothed
over the rivershine, and air hazed
and blued with the isoprenous trees shoulder-close
on each ridge, and brown lake water
shook with boats’ wakes
as if overflowing. In South Carolina, ghost crabs
pop up and dip down until dark.
I stepped on a sea urchin at twelve, there,
and picked purple spines from my foot.
After hurricanes we’d go out in green wind
to find deepersea shells, pink bodies unhusked
in the open, blooms of jellyfish sifting
from waves. Today my mother tells me
they’re escaping the wet heat by the river,
the air cool in pockets
where it’s been hasped like a cellar.
The June morning in Seattle is waterless
and moves solid as cloth through
the open window. When I walk on the shore
of the old beach at night, the pale crabs move
secretly over the slope to the water,
black eyes wavering on their stalks.
Children hunt them with blue buckets
and flashlights: they know ghost crabs
will stand stark still in the bright.
When we went, we noticed that the water
from our taps smells marine: puts more blue
in. Tastes like the road beside the marshes, asphalt riddled
with sinks, a lack not looked after. I show what
sun work is left, egg-specked shoulders shiny in
zinc, spots opacifying over me.
I’m forgetting what it’s like to have
sounds burn holes in my pockets. I show
my steps; I smell the soap and drip
inside, the sound of water taking side ways
through concrete hollows. Now the rain has
what we didn’t, now we don’t know what
we didn’t, end-of-orange-light, winsome.
I monitored our moving—shoulder-deep, tussocked, the tops
of our heads making marks toward the sea.
I’ll be honest: I don’t have any ideas. I drive around
my new and near-old city. I cup my last magnolias here;
I sit tight and swell here; I have dreams I can run
here. We in our apartment where no one before
has lived or died, we empty of associations, stepping with bare
feet on the construction dust mixing with pollen
on the balcony. I wear sunscreen out there and sit until
it runnels down my neck in white creeks. Leaving a place
far ahead is different, a predicated mourning; in every thing
I divine its future life without me, or with a little
of me, or me with a little of it. This is a place I waited for. I picked it
and let my hand go slack, dropped what I just let get ripe.
Emma Aylor is the author of the chapbook Twos (Dancing Girl Press, 2014), and her poems have appeared in Sugar House Review, Handsome, the Adirondack Review, Ghost Proposal, Vinyl, and elsewhere. Born and raised in rural Virginia, she now lives in Seattle, where she is an MFA candidate at the University of Washington.