Girl by featured artist Lora Mathis
We were not born of the same beginnings, love.
You are not made of asphalt and grey sand
and the 3am neon of liquor stores that never close.
Your lungs aren’t sick from ten years of hazy air,
and you’ve never known the scarcity of water
or seen the L.A. lights from the scrubland at night.
You are not heir to ranchland and deferred dreams,
and you do not know why rain tastes sweeter than wine
in the golden, dirt-dusted cathedrals of the foothills.
You’re spun from sweet tea and scarlet leaves,
raised up in cities older than my state’s independence
and forged in slow, sticky summers and winters with teeth.
You’re all the stars in the Carolina sky that we can’t see out west,
so tell me why I feel Pacific sun under your skin
when I press my palms to your chest.
There’s flecks of Sacramento gold in your hair,
I can taste Mojave wind clinging to your collarbone,
feel salt water rushing through the veins latticed up your arms.
Bruises blossom like strawberries whenever I’m around you;
the valley of my throat blooming bright as the summer yield
under your capable harvester’s hands.
I think, love, inexplicably,
that there is something in your weathered soul
that feels just like home, and it warms me,
even in the frosty Februarys of these foreign mountains.
Your smile is enough to send the heat of the desert rushing back,
and I have every earthquake I could ever want here,
in the tremor of your voice rumbling through me.
On Loving a Depressive
I remember when you bought a bottle of CVS dye in darkest chestnut as an alternative to the
ennui your boredom always brought. We hijacked the dormitory bathroom and set up shop with
washrags and plastic gloves, chased the darkness out with fluorescents set of high and a Spotify
playlist full of French alternative. My fingers trembled over the first knob of your spine
(sickeningly close to the surface) as I massaged vanity chemicals into the delicate curls springing
from the nape of your neck. They caught in my rings like tendrils of newborn ivy crying out for
embrace, and my eyes burned. I wanted to wring all the darkness out of your soul, watch it spiral
down the porcelain drain while I scrubbed the stains from behind your ears and under your chin.
I wanted to tease out all your troubles, set you in your rehabilitated ways like pincurls, and—
since mom always said there was nothing hairspray couldn’t fix—give your brain chemistry a
boost of sweet, sticky aerosol. Instead, I helped you rinse and rinse again, and didn’t bring up
how I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen you eat anything. Afterwards, I ran my fingers
through that day’s antidepressant, lingered for a moment to cradle the delicate curve of your
skull, and with a voice fractured as a bad luck mirror, told you that you were the most beautiful
thing I had ever seen.