MAGGIE WOODWARD lives in Los Angeles, where she’s pursuing a PhD in Cinema & Media Studies at the University of Southern California. She is the author of the chapbook FOUND FOOTAGE (Porkbelly Press, 2017) & earned her MFA in poetry from the University of Mississippi. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Atlas Review, Devil’s Lake, New South Review, Scum Magazine, & elsewhere. Previously, she served as Senior Editor of the Yalobusha Review & curated the Trobar Ric Reading Series in Oxford, MS. You can find her online at www.maggie-woodward.com.
I Think of All You Often
In my room I take my shirt
and place it by the radiator.
There is an important light. I turn it on.
All this time, I think,
I went to you in the water.
You handed me your mask
and I put it on. The pool’s filtration system
disrupted the path of the light
below your ears. I could use this,
I begin to think. Pool
is my favorite color. I go to
find my pen. Nobody ever leaves me
anymore. I unfog their masks.
I write to them for years.
You stand on the asphalt curved entrance of a main road’s
side street before some lawns in different order
and several lots home to just trees. Your goal
is to find the one yard whose bulkhead door gives, whose basement
holds a bucket made of fluted metal
by the home’s stairs, and in whose back woods is a collapsed pool.
The damp earth around the pool’s banded lip
retains the imprint of your sneakers’ worn soles as you walk
and when you have approached on the path’s loam. Its floor
of poured concrete has aged to take the natural tint of clay
and its cracks are filled in with caked dirt and small stones. You access the pool
from the buckled wall at one end stained by rivulets
of water that even now enter the pool
when it rains and drain out. Strike the pail with a found bough
and it echoes, because it is empty
and like all things freest and most out of itself
singing. Its diameter is of the average person,
and if you were under water your eyes would open and break
everything that is obvious and bright
into constituent clouds, and righting the pail it would breathe its air out in one burst
to the water’s surface reassimilating itself. To access
the path back you turn the pail against the pool’s floor
on its mouth and use it as a kind of ladder
to climb out, and the pail stays in the drained pool and will receive rain
never growing full, but in this rain its even face makes faint noise.
The Shirt of Happiness
Hang it in your living room
to find it when you least need
to put it on and go out.
Do not focus on the urge
to fill what it is made of
with your indecently proportioned
arms. Accept that it is
distinct, that it is inflexibly
put together. Do not eat
for two days. Cover the shirt
in warm water.
Cooling shirt against
your skin. There is nothing
you can do.
It is your favorite one.
In my room the wall-length window grows dark
and reflective and I sit up
to look through my blue shirt into a tree.
Missing person: I figured out
you still spin inside the dark music box
my chest turns to at night.
You do not grow cold or revolve
affectionately off. My mattress
is the life raft I inflated and carried
miles over freeways from the crash site.
There is a voicemail I imagine,
that has matured and incrementally
been deleted as its tenor slips
to stillness, to never speak.
Something cuts the walls from my apartment
and I skid into the broken
hole of sleep. I right myself and walk across the ice.
Nothing is very different. Blue shirt,
believable skin. I wade into the inevitable water,
and I climb out, and I wade in.
I floated in the water that went above my head
and stared at the lifeguards and branches.
My eyes choked comfortably
on the chemical water. When it rained the lifeguards
went inside their small office and conferred
with each other by themselves and made the children
each go home with their parents and the pool
would not be open again until morning. I stood shirtless
and mad in my cracked driveway latticed
with rough weeds. I climbed onto the small detached garage
as the side streets developed narrow streams and the thunder
got closer. The rain was now coming all at once.
The aggressive noise was seemingly from heaven.
I mistook it for something else but I forget
what I had done. The lifeguards. Their shitty, teenager
faces. I could feel hatred, and I wish that I knew
what it was. I do not belong here. It is for no one.
JONATHAN APREA is a writer living in Philadelphia. A chapbook he wrote called Dyson Poems is forthcoming from Monster House Press. You can find him on the web at jonathanaprea.com.