Three Poems

Anna Journey

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Last Nostalgia Starting with a Piece of Spider Plant on our Car’s Backseat

You moved clippings of your childhood spider plant
with us in a Ziploc half-filled with tap water

so we could grow something once rooted in the cool
valleys of Blacksburg in our new

Houston duplex. You kept a photograph of me—
where I perch on a brick wall in Richmond, by a coal train

idling near the muddy James—tacked to the velvet
insides of your fiddle case, its interior the purple

nap of coffins. I often wonder if you made it
back to your mountain town, if your friend Sheff—

the cokehead gravedigger—is still around, if he does
bumps in his pickup as he waits

for that day’s mourners to leave, so he can jump
on the coffin to get it all the way down,

which upsets the family if they linger
and see it. And you used to say I was the ghoul,

cutting my baked potato in front of the late
blue light of my true crime shows. You know,

a woman was once found crouched in her
killer’s white mini-fridge. This was

years later: her body rigid, her expression
still perfectly intact.

I Find a Photograph Online of a Taxidermied Fox Posed in front of a Flaming Grey Paisley Couch Abandoned in a Field of Crabgrass

—after the photograph “Fox, 2004,” by Jody Fausett

If this were a fable of insomnia, the cloth
couch on fire would be mine—
pea green—and the dead

fox, its right foot raised,
would be a waifish
Texan coyote. Don’t tell me

to brew chamomile tea
for a proper remedy. What
I’ve got is humidity

hot as marrow
working its slow way through
the blue paint in my bathroom,

sponging the windows’ seals
slick and loose
as honeysuckle. I fight

the new urge to write
the photographer from Dawsonville,
Georgia, to ask if he too

sits up late on a concrete porch
sipping something with fizz. Night
like a wick. I want to see if

he’ll drive to Houston soon
with a gas can and a red fox
frozen in an arsonist’s

pose. To see if he knows
how long a night
burns once we light it.

Blues for the Semiaquatic

Each time I feed the green lake
my stale apricot granola, it offers only
a pack of rat-tailed nutria

in return. They swim toward me,
their bucktooth incisors stained
from their body’s own iron—those bright red

front teeth. I know a thing or two
about mutiny, how a wound can
conform to any shape. You often say,

I moved here for you, as you slam
your door and splinter a few
low notes on the cello. I go

to the public park where people waver
through trails as they hold black
umbrellas in the heat. No rain. When you

gave up wheat, we thought
the stomach pains would stop, but the aches
came sharp and straight

from the landscape. Look at the Ouzo
you bought—finally, a liquor free
of barley. One shot clouds your tumbler

of water white. Watch the swamprats
I’ve summoned draw closer, slowly
rusting from something inside.

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