Back to Issue Thirty-Nine

En Plein Air



You hated the flowers. I tried to hate them too.

Can you see decay entering the frame
of our picturesque domestic landscape?

I am a creature of images, brief appearances.
I try to save myself from second sight.

Living this way is a small matter
of deferring and deferring
recognition, which means sorrow,
to some strange and distant date—

If I’d said this to you,
you would have been angry—

everything is suffused with its own ending.

I stood under a blooming tree
with a few buds unopened, faintly scumbled pink
as if to say there is still time—

what can I do with time

when nothing will ever produce for you
the world the way I see it?

I am not a painter.
I’m the kind of thing butterflies land on,
which does not make me a home.

Look, already, how we have become so estranged.




In An Emergency



Don’t lie to yourself. A little metal man
cannot water a little porcelain flower—

the man is not a man, the flower is not a flower.
They are only positioned to face each other.

It is best that they don’t notice that—

alone, they live in different worlds
than so much of what they will encounter.


My friend relayed the plot of a film
she felt, vaguely, she might have seen—

a man presents his lover with a sea lion,
whose head he bashes in
when she refuses to accept the gift—

How could he beat it? How could she not want it?


It doesn’t matter if man loves, he said,
or why, or even who—

we believe it when we feel it.
When we don’t, we don’t.

We know he is capable of pity,
which is to say

when we collapse
in the middle of the street,

man is kind:

kindly, this means
he turns to face the other way.




Valley of the Myrtles



To be in the world—
before the world—
I must become a person
entirely outside the one I am.

Looking back, perhaps
I could have been anyone—
a ferryboat captain, an unworldly guide—

we invent characters through which to reach each other.

I miss you so much
I am becoming you.

I put on your strange vision, your night walk—
what do you see on your side of the moon?

Soon, you say, this will all be recollection.
Nothing tragic,
in this world or the next.


Matilda Lin Berke grew up in Pasadena, CA, and is a recent graduate of Wellesley College. Her writing has been recognized by the Academy of American Poets, the National YoungArts Foundation, and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. You can find her wandering NYC, on Instagram @matilda.berke, and on Twitter @unmeritedsteak.

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