A stranger’s hothouse grows my heart
at 3 a.m. I’m leaving,
unhurried, like first kindling
nestled into a field’s edge.
The devil’s hour spews ash, muddied & familiar.
Even the guard dogs continue sleeping
as the latch clicks into the strike plate,
as I run a stick across the fence line
so it sounds like footfalls of someone
chasing behind me. Not even a block away,
I make Persephone’s mistake.
I knew I would
after she asked me to stay &
cultivate my gods.
But something still runs wild in me.
A stranger’s hothouse has harvested
my heart, climbing into bed
next to her, I continue insisting
I didn’t scorch the earth
to make room for her &
an ember blossoms as simply a morning lily.
In a blackout curtained room, a woman continues
sleeping through daylight.
Somewhere between consciousness & dreams
she weaves harp strings into docking rope
or maybe a noose. All around her
luminous bodies backstroke & butterfly
through gray matter. I skip jewels across the shallows
of her breath. Waves catch them in their salt
teeth, gnash them until they release sorrow
into the gray matter.
The sorrow makes the luminous bodies ravenous.
They drown each other to devour it.
The luminous bodies whimper when all the sorrow’s gone,
sinking back into the murky depths of the grey matter.
With a sigh, the woman begins to wake. A whirlpool forms
above her body. There’s no escaping. I’m pulled in,
pulled into a woman’s body—
a body that I’m forced to recognize as my own.
Laura Villareal earned her MFA from Rutgers University-Newark. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Palette Poetry, Black Warrior Review, Waxwing, and elsewhere. She has received scholarships Key West Literary Seminar and The Highlights Foundation. More of her writing can be found at: www.lauravillareal.com.