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Today I walk stalk. Pick up a rose petal,
pocket crumple its fuchsia. All of the jasmine is mine.
Wilting. The neighbors are stupid. They shaved off
the blooms of their sunrise lantana so all of the monarchs
got bored then left. I stalk walk and hunger curdles
like a middle finger on the ramp, merging into traffic.
I miss it. The throaty curses, the smog curled into a tongue-like cup.
I used to eat it like a fist. On the news, they said pregnant people
have to give birth alone. These lone portals of agony and affirmation.
I walk stalk the hospital right off the freeway. The sign painted neon
underneath my eyes. My tongue, folded neatly inside my mask.
None of the birthers knew all those times my winged shadow
pressed against their windows. The nurses, these pinsan of mine,
they knew. The names they called me (you know them): baby thief. Murderess.
I’m not here for that. Not today, at least. I’ve tunneled my hunger
down deep. Here to slow dance with you. Here to prop your wings
up. Here to whistle a melody against the percussion
of intermittent fetal monitoring. Here to hear
you crack spring open, then tumble all of the seasons. I’m here.

Rachelle Cruz is the author of God’s Will for Monsters, which won an American Book Award and the Hillary Gravendyk Poetry Prize. She currently teaches Genre Fiction in the MFA program in Creative Writing at Western Colorado University.
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5 Dec 2022

We found you, and you alone, in a universe that had forgotten to die.
there is something queer about this intention—
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