Sept 14, 2022
Between the ghost of Jean Paul Sartre
After Xime Silva & Emily Pittinos
With a line from A Cloud of Drench Bearing Down
My neck wrapped up in tattered
yellow tape at the scene, it doesn’t
matter how I got here. This is how
it happens. The wantless
follow you in the park
at dusk. Bushes are a crumbling
type of beige, sunflowers still
barely hanging on. Zoom in here:
there’s a tree that grows in south
central Florida in saltwater that sucks
all the salt into one leaf at a time.
Watch it turn yellow then beige and break
off. It picks a new leaf
and moves on. To kill small
parts of you so the rest keeps
living. To wither. To rot.
I’m picking and falling
and dying and picking again,
perpetual motion machine like, beverly
clock like, float belt like. I am drowning
the shadows. The elms take
and take and take, whatever
daylight is left is always
theirs. I wish I could be greedy.
The scent of grass between lips
and teeth. Tongue and throat
yellow in time. Sometimes
I wonder if I was meant to be a leaf
or a lilypad and someone out there
fucked up the making of me.
The shrieking, piercing having
of it, halving of it, the bloodhound
with my human bone I passed in the park
that night. The empty stomach,
the starving and drying. The yellowing
welcome center. The moon climbing
its clouds. Of course I was lying.
We all were, and maybe that makes us
bad people, but isn’t man evil
and I was supposed to be a leaf
anyway. How do you define what makes
a dead thing dead. The faded yellow
flyer floating past me on the pavement.
I’m keeping the memory at arms
distance, dull fire just far enough. Burn
those memories. Burn the footage. They
don’t need to know. Fuck and bleed
until dry. Towel off and hide. Straw hat.
Chicken wire. Distant sirens. Find me
chasing bees somewhere north. Find
me finally learning to sail. To escape,
to twist, to unfurl. To run, to hide,
to hibernate. Find a cave in the woods,
keep me away from the salt,
from the slicing. Find me painted
down the pavement, and dye my blood
yellow so the birds come and play.
Bella Rotker (they/she) is a sophomore at the Interlochen Arts Academy where they major in creative writing. She was born in Venezuela and grew up in Miami. They have received recognition from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and was a finalist in the Charles Crupi Memorial Poetry Contest. She won the Haley Naughton Memorial Scholarship to Iowa Young Writers Studio. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Red Wheelbarrow, Crashtest, The Hyacinth Review, and The Lumiere Review. Bella can usually be found trying (and failing) to pet bunnies, pressing flowers, or staring wistfully at bodies of water.