Back to Issue Thirty-Nine




I inspect the moles on my back like
foot prints. What were you doing
strolling across my shoulders?

My father doesn’t believe in sunscreen.
Turns pinched-pink and red in June
from cutting wood in the driveway.

Sawdust. His sparse hair ruffled
by a breeze. Give me more routine.
Argon oil then sunscreen. The white paste

tracing all the creases in my hands.
Forehead. Bridge of the nose. Neck.
I look forward to processes of touch—

when I can feign utility. I’m trying
not to die young. My father builds
wooden boxes. Not coffins but war crates.

Across his arms are faint saucer-shaped splotches.
Alien messages transmitted from the sun.
Re-apply at dusk for no reason at all

but the smell. The lengths I’ll go
to not be my father. Washes his face
in the sink, skin sun-humming and still warm.







The early March wind makes arches of us
as we push between headstones.

You’re insistent we stay on the trail and not walk
“above their heads.” You read last names aloud,

“Zimmerman” and “Sittler” and “Kutz” and “Keim”
and “Stone.” I focus more on the years, finding

“1779” and “1880” and “1817.” I ask you
to touch a stone with me, adorned in lichen and rock-rot.

You decline and keep walking towards the mausoleum.
I follow and, on the way, you count five “baby” stones.

You say, “Why didn’t they at least name them.”
I imagine the bone babies, hundreds of years, coiled

like tadpoles cold in their eggs. You name them—
pointing and wondering aloud, “How will I remember

what I call them. We’ll have to come back.
We’ll have to come back.” I promise to take you back.

On the news that same night the weather man wears
a grey-blue suite and explains the wind is so harsh because

warm air and cold air are clashing. As if in agreement
a gust howls against the windows. There was one tomb stone

shaped like a tree trunk. I asked you, “Is this a tomb stone
or really a tree?” but what I meant was “I want to be buried.”

I want what “baby” has in their brilliant dark.
Unnamed and eternally asking, “Who was I?”

so that a little boy might carve a brief name in me
and then forget.



(not dead) name



I keep my old name around
like a spider captured beneath
a drinking glass.

My secret is I feed her flies
to keep her breathing.


Robin Gow is a trans poet and young adult author from rural Pennsylvania. They are the author of Our Lady of Perpetual Degeneracy (Tolsun Books 2020) and the chapbook Honeysuckle (Finishing Line Press 2019). Their first young adult novel, A Million Quiet Revolutions is forthcoming March 2022 with FSG Books for Young Readers. Gow’s poetry has recently been published in POETRY, Southampton Review, and Yemassee.

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