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A Poem by Sam Moe


I wake and can’t grasp hold of the day. The beach turns the coast raw,

there are cinnamon-hued jellyfish on the shore, shells the size of my

thumb, micro mollusks I gather in bundles and place in jars, I place an

empty hand to the horizon and grab the curl of surf, I stand before the

empty house and witness all that you’ve left behind. You hated the

amber shutters, the mold growing off the half-moon deck, cloudy as a

fingernail, there hang clouds of haze, now alight and pale blue from

water’s glow, each circular window reminding me of the patterns in

your hair, your glasses—broken, on the kitchen counter—the bottoms

of mugs, cereal full of berries with openings for stems, the eye of an

old gray cat sleeping in a warm patch, you left all of it behind. I

thought you might return, a supportive ghost, penny buns in one hand,

wicker basket in the other, your wedding ring lost in the sand. I used to

wish I was a season or a storm, a tiny séance or a small soft god, I

could hold butterflies properly, I could say goodbye to October and

mean it, I would have the courage to take your minnows from the

doorways, I’d be strong enough to wipe away the sky. Back inside,

everything smells like nuts and stones and a still hot poppyseed muffin

at the table. I am in the process of locking myself out of my own heart.

I am selling the car. I am sunburnt and lush, drinking white wine in the

middle of the day. Come late three then four, I dream I bite my own

neck, I split open the past with a wave of my hand, set fire to the

worms and the mercury buds. The woman from down the street is

coming over later. She doesn’t know I’m hollow inside, she has tattoos

of sea urchins and sun doodles, she keeps statues of whales in her

foyer, she dances for fun. If you were another, none of this would have

happened. We could be strangers in the neon lights downtown, holding

each other in a strip of rainbow as a pastry chef deep fried caramel-

coated blt’s above our heads. You never even gave me a chance. Come

back, tell me something I don’t already know.


Sam Moe is the first-place winner of Invisible City’s Blurred Genres contest in 2022, and the 2021 recipient of an Author Fellowship from Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. Her first chapbook, “Heart Weeds,” is out from Alien Buddha Press and her second chapbook, “Grief Birds,” is forthcoming from Bullshit Lit in April 2023. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @SamAnneMoe.

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