This poem was nominated for The Best of the Net.
foxtail flower, cunning loveliness, leave
me to eat until i’m full, fill up on bitterness.
before it is our house it is – to me – one
basement, a roving plane of parties where
i drink to stomachache. i don’t know now
if i ever saw you or wish i had. you were
a dancing stranger OR a silhouette upstairs
[it was yours before it was mine.] eerie in
planes of sunlight, the house where house
falls away, where we could be anywhere,
a sloshing, sluggish boat, and what of the
the swell of strangers, your lips on mine,
so my self seems to drop away, so i am
a comma apart, moonbeam girl, i forget
i was myself before i was your image of me.
the flowers in their vivid shades of
death; what is most beautiful here is the
place i again and again let my self
in the After, this room is rotting rainwater, is
concrete and tinted windows, graffitied walls,
speakers that play no more music. in morning’s
ugliness, i pretend clarity. i am looking at you as
as i talk to a friend, i am waiting for the moment
you call me upstairs, christen these rooms ours.
how can i love what leaves me a bottle bobbing
at sea, why do i lick the last drops of poisoned
memory? in truth, i’m never any good at parties;
i wish i could hear better, that i could stop seeing
myself in the prism of other people’s eyes. there
are so few photographs of us from this below, but
always i seem to look surprised. i didn’t ask why
you chose me. i didn’t ask how you could see me
in all my wobbling insecurity and still want me
over any another. maybe it would have helped to
know. but i am perilous bloom, creature of damp,
i belong in the murky avenues of rooms after every
reveler goes home. i am down in this below, here
where i need not explain myself or ask.
EMMA EISLER (she/her) is a junior English major at Cornell University with a concentration in poetry. She is Editor in Chief of the university magazine, Kitsch, as well as a columnist for the independent newspaper, The Cornell Sun. She is a recipient of the Cornell University Dorothy Sugarman Undergraduate Prize for poetry and has been published in magazines including The Smart Set, Allegory Ridge, Cathexis Northwest Press, Prometheus Dreaming, Storm of Blue, Blackheart Magazine, SWITCHBACK, and Beyond Words. She was also a semi-finalist in Digging Through the Fat’s 2021 chapbook contest. Emma plans to continue pursuing a career in writing after she graduates.