Allison Stein is a poet and high school student from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA).
Her work has received national recognition from the Scholastic Art and Writing
Awards, and her poems can be found in the Eunoia Review, Riggwelter Press,
Parallax Literary Journal, and more. She is currently working on a novel.

cupping in hands

something warmly unspoken stuck to the air,
a brief haze over the windowsills leaving pink streetlight
so thin it is breathable, and beneath it's just me, alone
at 2:12 am balancing on my tailbone
which I shouldn't have, but the pearled edges birth themselves again
and again, uselessly, somehow sweetly staying.
and the shoulder blades too big for my sunburned back,
i left my wings in the airport bathroom again, didn't i
or maybe it was the meadow this time
but always wearing xxxl shirts to leave a space for them.
meanwhile grasses droop in heat rising from the crushed earth as
st. anastasia mourns beneath a dull narrow heaven.
except there are also the peach trees and morning glories
pushing through and birthing in everyday movements the reason
she still remembers how to curl chapped lips
around the name of god.
i'm wondering what love feels like but
it's not as though you can pet it like cheap towels in the target aisle,
love is something you find clamoring between your palms
after sprawling in the cold creek,
it's the draped sunlight and the crayfish in the gravel.
and likewise there's a cleanness about the way we pick tiger lilies
from among the blown tires on the side of the highway,
like the tailbones and the wisdom teeth
and star-wrapped voyager 1 and 2 once they forget how to speak.
no one meant for them to be there
but we lay them down on the backseat and display
them, sunstreaked, on the coffee table in a milk pitcher.

expansion of lungs

chernobyl in the spring with
razoring grass pushing through cracks in crumbled brick,
pink flowers in the bathroom where the sink used to be,
a beige shoe marooned in the hallway and fluorescent swallows breeding
in the cavities of the tumbling walls
where a memoir in lemon wallpaper finallyvanishes

black hole in the sky from all this breathing.
the streetlights droop, all sick dancer limbs
but moths hatch from the shattered bulb and
take dust-blooming steps into the barren garden.
the buildings bleed blue pines whose needles gather
in the swimming pool and the shopping cart.
it's how it always

goes. the bears in the drinks aisle of the grocery store.
this untamed future, the caterpillars bunched inside your favorite dress.
here's the thing: nothing lasts but the sky looks the same
and here is another: we are just fingertips and transience.

see: the wolves sleeping in the garage and
the mushrooms unfurling in the kettle and the wild horses
licking your fingerprints from the walls for the salt.
everything exhales so cleanly. inhales just as sweet.
this breathing to the limits of infinite,
bluebells climbing through window screen, raccoons prying back the carpet
where you spilled white nail polish.
and really you don't make a sound when you breathe

clean small chaos

maybe perhaps possibly we could keep the clover flowers
awake and coloring in the yard beneath
the 95 degree unclouded sun in a world where it is still june
so the white vaguely peach stars stay, so thick in the grass
that reaching out a hand you could hold thirty
in a splay of still baby-silk fingers and feel eighteen bees
hot against the skin and petal. only really too inescapably it is july
and the grass is four inches long so it's not a question of the
flowers but of my father coming home from work
and not even changing clothes before kicking awake
the lawn mower, and after hushed devouring by bag
and gasoline the yard crumples dim
without a single flower left, and all this time
i have been in the air conditioning googling
the sky the day brian was killed, all overcast 1993
so the clover disappears suddenly barely visibly
as though it was really september and
really so very naturally time to go

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