Advanced Shapes

Kindergarten, Valentines Day.
You pinned a felt heart over your chest.
“Your heart is where you feel love,
which is why it’s red,” Teacher explained.
This was the first lie you remember.
In your heart, you felt lightning, hot air balloons,
neon blue squiggles
and golden rod spirals:
the shape of penguins
eating ice cream at the zoo.
When you pledged allegiance to the flag,
you silently wished
for birthday cake with dinner
and more dollies to rest on your unmade bed.

Every autumn
Momma took you to the north lake.
While your sisters watched MTV,
you collected agates along the shore,
stuffing your pockets with
shiny, clanking pebbles:
the shape of sand in reverse.
You threw each one
back into the water,
knowing the rocks never meant
to leave such loveliness behind.

You don’t know
which books to keep on the shelf,
or how many towels to keep in the bathroom.
The cat licks frost from the window panes,
leaving behind a patch of melt
where his rough tongue made the Spring.
Out in the street, neighborhood boys
shovel snow until metal sparks sidewalk,
carving an escape in the same shape
as last year’s trenches:
already familiar and still unexpected.

Morning with News Crawler

6 a.m. and
the sun whispers
terrible things
to turn the horizon tender pink
and chase away the morning fog.
Sneakers wait
by the front door,
and they do not want
to dance with you.

TV news crawler types
to the waiting world.
The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico
is now bigger than New Jersey,
a brown smear
burping neon green bubbles
of phytoplankton rot.
Water along its edge churning,
a clear line between
business as usual
and suffocation.

You stir cream into your coffee.
Synthetic hazelnut
coats your tongue
bitter and sharp.
Cat hair brambles gather
at the edge of the kitchen table.
And you’re not sure
if you’re doing any of this right.

Isadora Gruye is a writer and photographer living in Minnesota. She believes in cartographers and beekeepers but has little need for maps and honey. Her first poetry collection, “The Ladies Guide to the Apocalypse was published in 2019 and her second collection, “Doomsday Heart Brings Her Dream Journal to the Book Burning” was selected to be part of the 2020 Ghost City Press summer series.