It’s been raining since I arrived
and it was raining before.
Wet leaves turned to slime
at the shoulder of the highway
I walked in my bare
socks. I revered nothing
and I prayed at the gates
of a parking lot; I was disoriented
and I took deep breaths
in front of a Pizza Milano.
A woman in fuchsia
walked out of the restaurant
and crumpled into glass bells
that echoed in the valley.
Trees stood alone, coats
open like old men.
I didn't want a new god
so I sought a new country.
The woman’s necklace said SHARON
so I named everything Sharon.
what do you know about geometric accuracy
about geologic time
do you know how to ask the right question
are you trying to understand bee colonies, what constitutes a bee’s qualities, or the
precarious nature of being a bee
how many times does the vertebrate brain have to map the existence of the bee
model one or more processes of critical thinking
and what do you know about verbs and their arrangements
in making them agree with their executors, what gets lost
your knowledge of the linden, could it fill a book of field notes
and do you ever want to swim in the ocean-colored carpet
are you prepared to dive into the procedure proposed for you
do you ever question the origin of your name
why you lived in sleepiness at the margins
why you contracted the illness of plastic labels
why you were in charge of dark conference rooms where people read bubbles
and thought within an array of sexless plants
so it turns out there is no worst case scenario
& there was always going to be a panel of light a cat taking space on the sill
an unnatural belly pressed into squares on screen
always going to be a fear of flying til finally you say fuck all that
tuck your hope away always going to be queer feet
stuck with shells and soled poorly pale as canvas glued to a frame
the frame, too, in every picture & in every picture is
overwhelming it, ribs pressed up like a dress ribbon
always someone is there with a shaved head watching
you eat a grilled cheese in her bed before asking can I kiss you
you don’t always say yes but always you wish you had
at the important fundraising event always you’re told to keep
your hands to yourself “People from the City” placated
so you go straight into the photo booth because there’s a photo booth
at the end of every one of these & on the teeny bench you snap
photo after photo in plastic glasses & moustache
done up like a clown in a gorilla mask
& only once do you also go out & lie with her in the grass
Suzanne Highland is a queer writer from Sarasota, Florida. She has a BA from Florida State University and an MFA from Hunter College, where she won the Miriam Weinberg Richter Award in 2016. Suzanne has also received support from The 92nd St Y, Sundress Academy for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and Brooklyn Poets, where she was a fellow in 2018. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Apogee, Redivider, Bomb Cyclone, and in the anthology Home is Where You Queer Your Heart from Foglifter Press, among others. She teaches writing to public high school students and lives in Brooklyn.