3 Poems

By Emily Alexander 

Drawing of different people standing close to each other.

I have been struggling to figure out what to say about the election, and what kind of post I wanted to write for this week. There is so much hurt right now. I am one of the lucky ones, whose circumstances have put me in a place of relative privilege that allows me to search for and find love. So mostly I want to listen. For this post, I decided to share three of my poems; the first two are about the most important women in my life, and the last is a love poem. I am hoping that I am lucky enough to have this little bit of light, and to give it.

Sitting on the Roof of the Old House


My sister and I crawl out the window and unroll

towels to rest our elbows on. Down the street wavering


lines of heat hum. We are young,

shin bones bruised, ponytails frayed


ropes down our backs, our bodies still simple, spreading out

on thin shoulder blades. Our mother gives


us each a square of soil to dig our hands into, to grow

poppies, tulips, broccoli to pick and eat, but we let the boxes ruin


the grass in the front yard. We want only to float above

the neighborhood like lazy gods or birds or the sun


flopping across the sky. The world does not owe us

a single gleaming thing, but we don’t yet know


this. Phone lines swing past gold fields, wrinkled trees

unfold, the raw rag of summer drapes itself over our not quite


nervous bodies. It is all ours. And hours

pulse by, seeds still in their packages, while each delicious


hammer of light strikes for us, for us and our ripening skin.





They’ve remarried now, all of them far

from the ghosts lifting wineglasses to hungry

mouths at Marci’s kitchen table. But there they are,


as I will always remember them: Kelly’s knees pressed

against braless chest, Marci’s busy hands

lighting candles, pouring another drink, my mother,


her finger still striped with absence. Outside,

it was cold. The white page of winter curled

at the edges, folded in on itself. We played hide-


and-seek, ignored our mothers’ clenched teeth, learned

loneliness in small doses, overlapping our shirt

sleeves, pant seams, our own nervous feet.


And I remember so many shoes piled near the door,

the gas fireplace behind glass, all that warmth

from the flick of a fingertip. And the three of them


gathered their wounds, stacked them

high like poker chips while we tried to forget

our fathers’ names, how they grinded out


of our mothers’ lips. We tried not

to flinch. We fell asleep, were carried home

in front seats, the nailless holes


in walls aching for the weight of picture frames.

I imagine them then, tiptoeing

into bedrooms, eyes closed, fingers soft


against the wall’s spine. In the dark, my mother

blind to the empty dresser, the bed

so unevenly scarred.



Grocery Store Love Poem


We are wading through the florescence and weary

glances of Winco shoppers. I love you,


but don’t know it yet. We sip mimosas

from paper cups, all bumble, all tipsy, all


floating in the glow of post-work in jam-stained

shirts. Our nectarine hearts ripen, wait


to be picked by some accident of a soft hand. We follow, clumsy

while our friends consider various kinds of shampoo


& champagne. People check milk prices, fill

bags with bulk rice, I often lie about the wideness of night,


how it seeps through me, how I bruise easy. Still,

I skate the floor between the nonperishables & the hum


of refrigerators with all these strangers,

pressing thumbs into pears & palms,


doing what we do to keep ourselves

fed. I touch your face to pull pulp out of your beard.


A woman passes, lifts a box of Diet Coke, & the cans rumble,

murmur, settle in the metal basket while lovers & once


lovers reach for Cheerios, check phones

to no recent calls. I know we can’t quiet hunger


just by standing here together, but I like you so much

I feel full. Crooked wheels roll, fumble


for friction on the smooth skin of linoleum, & we are directionless

in the cereal aisle, our little lives unknown


to the elbows resting on cart handles, our unknown reaching, & maybe

theirs, right there in the buzz & bloom of the grocery store.






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