Mary Alice Long

U. Vulgaris

It’s raining again, and I’m glad.

You remember the nights, static electric, performing lawn comb-overs, painting the bushes. Enamel and AstroTurf. Everything coming up roses. All is well. Nothing to see here. Move along. Climbing stairs to our devalued high-rise, blankets crackling against our desert skin, gripping stained hands. Lightning storms shaking against our labor-forced metal-threaded bones in a building not yet siliconed, liquid fear of bringing the whole place down. Superattractors.

When the thunder returned, no timing it, just downpours, floods, our high-rise revalued even as the floor sogged beneath our family’s feet; the pounding, the appeals, the door retaining our mettle as we waited to see who would fall through, who would sink who would stand; the framework was stronger than we thought and we and the children on the rafts we built from the floors the doors and all that floated 

Our daughters, we tried to fight for them the creeping green the red not only my hands but my nipples, my face. When we last made land their bones were not like those of fish but those of astronauts. We held our soft soggy children against lacemetal ribs and hips but everything was too hard
nothing is solid now

The plants are growing        some boughs shake down, some up, some in, some on. Don’t hold it against them. They seek all nutrients they reconcile the differences. I tried to need only water and sun. I remember the story of the woman who decided to become plant, whose fiancé moved on, found a wife, still sowed in their new yard his original love, let her take root, and flourish.

Our riven roots our flotsam family tree. Remember we were vegetarians and wrote letters about meat, bone char paint, fat plastic rakes? We boycotted. We avoided byproducts.

We helped each other drown our past selves. We were scared of that disease cannibals used to get; we remembered mad animals. I keep it under. I tied you into our daughters, your bones and sinew into theirs, and those I’ve found along the way, but it’s raining again, and I’m glad to rip up these threads, slimy, fattened on never-ending water, and I’ve slurped the red tide and nibbled the green and tried to make it last

Little remains. Not your sweet eyes or cock or heart; those organs too soft, too brief. You remember the girls—their honeycomb bones, their candy skulls—I held them both to my breasts and always felt I’d been better with plants. The tenacity of plants, even painted.

They said, you know, They, once, that god made Eve from adam’s rib, but women outlast cages. The marrow’s been gone; the water has softened the rest and we joked even at the worst, the static storms, the metal revolt, the flood and blood that we saved in the cups you made struck forever by that funny bone feeling, keep us going, keep up appearances the lawn must be green the flowers bright. It’s okay. Nothing to

I’m not worried. I’ll pull up this bit of you and I may be sinking but it’s raining again and I’m glad there are no doves. They were poorly drawn on our shitty wedding invitations and they sure as hell aren’t swooping in now with their poisonous olives and soft coos I miss your taste like our daughters like the slow, soft ripping that tugs you and them from below me your elbow metal hurt my few teeth are too soft I’ve given up scraping at the creeping greens and reds

When my body was port I did harbor you and with our electricity we brought life to spite but no pain will deliver you back from my body no science will bring you up from beneath me could I pull from myself the rods to catch lightning

It’s fast, the way down       like work
paint drying          that first cry        a cut so sharp the blood waits while you
recognize

Mary Alice Long holds an MFA from Florida Atlantic University; her work can be found in Loud Zoo, weirderary, Terrain, and Crack the Spine.

A Song for Mary

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