Jessica Hudgins lives in Baltimore (U.S.A.), where she teaches creative writing. Her
poetry appears in The Journal, Portland Review, Baldhip Magazine and elsewhere.

"Your Eyes Close as I Fall Asleep"

Shaded Argentine and Ecuadorian, disrupted
by a short English vowel,
your Spanish is amphibian: uncommitted

to salt or fresh water. Not that,
when you call your mom
or swear, I can hear your variations.

You read me Neruda untranslated
and teach me Spanish during sex
so you'll be the only person for practicing.

All I learn is besame
and our impatience. I want an expanse
of language to teach you,

but I run aground in trivialities
correcting your "wailing tea"
and "excruciable."

We disagree on backpack versus book bag.
Cold mornings you wake me, sleep-talking.

Corner of 10th Ave and 10th Street

I knew it would rain, but came anyway.
No backpack, no rain jacket.

The lemons were big as oranges.
Here's where we went

after that first night, where
you poured seeds like milk

into the ground, growing forests
of sprouts, where you pulled

one carrot, and then,
in disbelief, all of them.

The rain that had started, stopped.
The lemons I'd picked, I left.

To Be Loved, Thin, Considered Smart

The summer I left you, I read my journals to you, my ordinary desires. We had impossible sex—that dying grip. Who knew what one hand could do, the other bailing out water. I'd written about Lauren Bailey and Garrett Hollis, those oldest hurts. We cracked each other's knuckles, planned beating Lauren and Garrett bloody. We didn't sleep for fucking. We took back the word cunt; we took it from the back. We laughed and laughed.

After I left, you stayed in my head. And out—everyone so tired of hearing it. I'm drunk, I should go home, I should go home alone. But—here's something—just remembered: the textures in your leg, armpit, and arm hairs; what you said to help me sleep, those nasalized Spanish vowels. I hadn't known to be scared. I felt better, talking to you. I feel better, talking about you. How to be, when better is brief... Your mom said something, roughly, like, only the spoon knows the depth of the pot. Difficult to translate, you said. Was I the pot, or the spoon? Did you know how deep this thing went, how deep it would go?

Grafted Thing

Spring makes an ocean-reflected
sunrise, a red Rorschach
of inner thighs. My body

seems to try—blood dried
dirt-black on a palm—to hold itself in.
What if orange peel, sepal,

egg shell? The lining,
useless cauling,
coming all at once.

How pink can the water run?
Next week, bleeding done,
I imagine pain, the difference

between shed and kept flesh.
I keep pulling amaryllis
—invisible inheritance—

from the garden. The path
a rush of bulbs. I keep up my habit:
the skin in the mouth

comes in long strips, bitten.
Each night, the skin heals; each day:
picked to pieces again.

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