by Stella Reed
I could tell you there were days I faded
into the sheets, scent of my unwashed hair
exuding from every stuffed animal manning
the perimeter of the bed, their paws remaining
behind the lines I’d drawn with chalk and string.
I kept an arsenal of pop beads
beneath my pillow near a wishing stone
that didn’t work and a few uncollected teeth.
I can tell you how the sun pearled
through the window and found me waiting,
how the light shone on the rubber
toes of my Keds and lit them with escape.
Out the window I flew to the wild birds.
I grew and grew and changed form. I became
a musette replete with accordion
and the bright liquid of trees.
I met a man in a bar who said
You should show off your shape more often.
So I stuck it in a department store window
naked, nipple-less, hairless. The sun lit
my bald head like a moon jelly.
It’s possible, right, to change again?
I mean, look at the frog. It starts out spermish
in water, grows feet and a tail. Loses the tail,
hops onto dry land, grows eyes and a tongue.
So it was possible for me, from my storefront window,
to become sun-faded cloth, a white flag
that flapped soundlessly against the glass.
Surrendered, I lost my hands at the table
eyes in the palms. Lost the taste of irony
on the spoon near the plate of regret.
They say to tame a wild bird do not swallow,
lest it believe you want to devour it.
If you’re still listening, I want to hear that sound,
see your throat rise and drop.
Go on, it’s automatic. Like when your ears fill
while descending in a plane. Like you’re thirsty
beyond belief and all that’s left is your own fluid body.
Stella Reed (she/her) is the coauthor of the NM-AZ Book Award-winning We Are Meant to Carry Water (2019) from 3: A Taos Press. She is the 2018 winner of the Tusculum Review chapbook contest for Origami. In pre-pandemic times, she taught poetry to women in domestic violence and homeless shelters through WingSpan Poetry Project in Santa Fe, New Mexico. You can find her work in various journals and anthologies, including most recently The American Journal of Poetry, The Baltimore Review, About Place Journal, The Fourth River, and Terrain. She is a Best of the Net nominee for 2020 and holds an MFA from New England College. Stella works for Audubon Southwest where she is a proud member of the Queer Affinity Group.