What Lucy Feels Like

The air
inside a
leaf fist.
burnt romantics
or tin aftermath
of rain,
mist through trees,
lone bonsai
on hillside green—
solitude’s calm
is not the air
I mean.
When you feel
mad at
which means
mad at
there’s no
sweet alone.
Mid-summer sewer,
trash, rat dung
is the wind
I mean,
I’m ugly
my cottage cheese
and bubble ankles
in one beige sock
one white.

Click here to read Claudia Cortese on the origin of the poem.

Claudia Cortese:

I sometimes think of Lucy as an amalgam of me and my girlhood friends. Our stories so yawningly common—we were white and suburban and sad; we smoked and drank beer by the abandoned tracks and sometimes we were raped and sometimes we slapped each other, hissed, White trash, bitch, cunt, in all our originality, and sometimes we starved and sometimes we binged on Kit Kats and cheese puffs and whatever else we could find in our folks’ cupboards. A friend once described Lucy as the dark energy of girlhood. I don’t know if Lucy is many people or simply a vessel, but I know she can’t breathe. This poem, with its thin lines corseting details into a single stanza, gives form to Lucy’s dread and terror.


Photo: “Need Air” by Maxim Trudolubov; licensed under CC BY 2.0

Claudia Cortese
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