Gina Vaynshteyn- 3 POEMS

THE YEAR OF THE HORSE

You told me to meet you by the creek,

the one with the water that imperfectly struts

through dirt, like a broken pageant queen.

Its current so stiff and disingenuous, you once

joked that it needed whiskey just to make it

to the dam.

I didn’t go. I sat at the kitchen table

and slowly drank warm soda. I swirled it

in my glass like wine, its caramel

undertones forming blooming tulips

in my stomach.

I’ve had dreams where I’ve let you go,

set fire to your canoe after I pushed

it from the bank, using all my girlhood

crush strength. My boots drowned in earth’s

sap, my legs nearly swallowed whole,

but I had to get the job done, didn’t I?

I said no prayer for your body.

* * * * *

THE MARRIAGE POST

I carve my vows into our bedpost

with an X-Acto knife long before

we marry.

I am precise. Sawdust fills my nails:

an appetite taken care of, a fullness

only animals truly know.

Tattooing our promises like stupid

Americans, we pay double, no —

triple the price for matching rings.

As I stab the wooden frame,

the neighbors gather around the house

as though I am giving away free

gold watches. Or maybe they stand

and watch, pretending I am a man

being clubbed to death,

blood dripping down my nostrils,

my mouth that never really was meant

for kissing.

When I am done, the bed trembles,

the wild dogs gallop from the canyon,

severing everything they hold dear.

* * * * *

80% HUMIDITY

It’s humid where it shouldn’t be,

the sky sweats down our stomachs, this coastal

air is thick like honey.

I can’t seem to wash the syrup off my skin,

waiting for the rain that was supposed to come

yesterday. I need its release mostly to remind

me that my body can understand me still,

my bones are still mine, my muscles are

clumsy like fish that wrap me whole. I am

a birthday present; Thankful for this,

and taking two multi-vitamins a day, I pretend

I’m on a cruel island with no fruit.

To love neatly is to forget about the part
of your brain that wishes to ravage,

rip something apart simply because it belongs

to you and will listen to the way your cries sound

like kid songs.

Gina’s work has been published or is forthcoming in PANK, Treehouse, Milksugar, The Legendary, The Rumpus, and LA Review. She is currently Poetry International’s social media coordinator and associate editor, where she works under poet Ilya Kaminsky.

* * * * *

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