Back to Issue Thirty-Six




I had a feeling I was married, that we’d signed the papers
and swam in the lake.

I have no photographs of you. But I know your phone number,
that you were born without a cherry.

I wake in Iowa, mid-virus.

The kale you grew you didn’t eat. It started as an image of a seed,
and then a seedling, something to save
our marriage, though we weren’t married.

If you want to get to Heaven, which you don’t, you will have to quarantine
fourteen days.

You will have to grow weeds and scan your brain for mildew,
rot, the plans to your treehouse.

I found a map to a city & knew I’d lived there,
not when, but that I had a tree where I would read. I took baths and a train
to and from the city center, a baguette crumbling in my arm.

What’s the end point of a marriage, of a husband?
Someone to eat oatmeal with every morning. Someone to watch your body as you watch
your body

I could only half-raise, half-mother, half-watch the tornado
skidding into the valley

I wanted to swallow the lake
before it got to me so I could drift in it.




Eggs After Sell By Date



I am the mother here. I sew buttons on coats, match socks.
I peel eggs, chart good behavior, smell your evergreen

I can tell it snowed last night because we sleep in,
sprinkled with fairy dust, later than usual

I can tell you it’s winter, that my son is four, that I didn’t scream last night.

White curtain like swordfish, like let me name all the sharks I know

Not now, don’t name them now : goblin shark. sawtooth—
lemon, spinner, reef.

I open the white curtain, no surprise: Snow is a feeling.

I can get out of bed, unlike my mother. I get out of bed every day

Are you done growing, my son asks.
No, I wink, not even close.


One day I will find a gray hair on my sweater, and it will be mine

For now we stumble into our snowclothes & into the sunlight
I barely look for a trap door, for a stop sign to run

You are a monster, he says later, after I scream
at him for not staying in his bed

He is already bigger than me if I squint my eyes, gentler

I loosen & hold him in my arms. I remember where I parked my car,
next to the snow pile, next to the green hatchback.

My throat is sore, like I’ve been sledding. Kissing
is still the last thing you have to do.

My son is my fault, my vault of treasure, nothing alike.

He finally sees me the way I ask to be seen, my ugliest: sick,
and not sick of stars




Julia Anna Morrison is from Alpharetta, Georgia, and has an MFA from the University of Iowa. Her work is forthcoming in The Columbia Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and West Branch. She teaches at the University of Iowa and co-edits Two Peach with Catherine Pond. You can find her at

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