by Sarina Bosco
1st Place – Flash 405, June 2018: “Nature”
Once this was a poem and it was about someone else, but now it is about you because you have fallen in love and so have I, accidentally, second-hand. It rises off of my skin and out into the night melting the fallen snow, softening the pine needles, making me read Neruda alone with bare thighs. Hair down like it was when you were caught here at my mouth.
And still I am caught, waiting, raw under the moonlight. The poetry books sleep on the shelves.
Let me be clear: I knew.
You went west looking for answers and found vast landscapes instead. I went to college, wedged myself between the mountains, read and read and read until the boys all fell in love with me because I never looked at them.
I want to tell you about the Aztecs. Their fifty-two cyclical years and the repetition of events.
I want to tell you that that’s us—that we’ll come back around, even when we don’t know we’re nearing one another. Like the nights almost two years ago that you spent at my bare ankles, laughing in the dark, drunk on whiskey.
When you were gone and I grew restless I went west, too. And all that I found was wild animals in rut—stags rubbing the new soft parts of themselves on the cedars, confused. The living bone itching under the flesh. Their hides quivering with desire.
I think of you when I see them bellowing, scared and belligerent. Wandering through the pines lowing, flesh hanging in tatters from their racks. I wonder if she’s worth it.
The man that I’m in love with tells me that sometimes I murmur in my sleep. We will come back around.
I took an astronomy class, too. I never told you that. I never told you a lot of things and I wonder if spilling them out at night would have stopped your hand on the doorknob. I learned about the planets and how if they dance too close to each other one must sacrifice itself. Gravitational pulls, when imbalanced, are destructive.
We’ll come back around. But for now you’ll keep sleeping with that girl with the small, small teeth. Your soul going out under all of the constellations. Waiting to see if there’s a message for you coming years and year from now; waiting to see if we’ve destroyed each other yet.
There is something really magical about the Aztec calendar and the cycle of fifty-two years that kept bringing me back to this piece. It captures the spiral of nature and time’s influence over us, how certain people or places or scents can mean something at one time, and then years later mean something completely different.
And here we see a life, a universe, unfolding, splitting into different paths like tree limbs. We are left to question if Bosco will ever meet the person she’s talking about again, let alone fall back in love with him, if their cycles will ever sync, if and how they will control their fates.
Sarina Bosco is a chronic New Englander. She collects myths, often wakes up around 2:00 am, and can’t get the words out quick enough.