I keep Ovid in a glass jar in my pocket, and he presses
his face to the glass and tells me I should go home.
I have never been cold, unless you count nights
watching ducks eat duck meat in the dark.
Dead moths abandon fragility, defy dust with too many eyes
pointed north, and the stars drown their names
in frozen lakes across Ohio, something like falling in love.
I have never been anything other than temporary.
Ovid judges me for writing with my left hand
when I am not left-handed. Ovid circles job advertisements
and taps against the glass, and I was never any good
at reading lips. I open the lid and sprinkle milkweed seeds
into his hair. I know he is dying, which is why
I don’t apply for any of the jobs he circled, or sleep anymore.
Dead women tap the undersides of my floorboards.
Dead women flutter eyelashes against my palms when I sleep.
Cicadas—Ovid chews up my cicadas, stamps them under a heel,
shakes grief from his hair and accuses me of softness. I shake
the jar three times and know more bones than I was born with.
Dead women weave blankets from my dead skin, all this blood
across teeth, all this ink winding into liver, Ovid smiling
because neither of us ever learned how to be alone.
MARY SIMMONS is a queer poet from Cleveland, Ohio. She is an MFA candidate at Bowling Green State University, where she is the managing editor for Mid-American Review. She has work in or forthcoming from One Art, tiny wren lit, The Shore, The Santa Clara Review, Penumbra, and others.
The art published alongside this poem is by Anna Buckley.