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I was already blindfolded, a walking diary—

distracted, stuck, inspirited and on top of them, him

and her and, ici, les personnes. Yet I steadied my

forearms, and the black rabbit composed a path

from arbor vitae to awning.

Gold morning. Or yellow lights on an old truck,

buying everyone’s new springtime.

“The desire, if it’s kept alive, will often be validated

with an idea,” he whispered in my mouth. Two

obsessional seconds he held me under water. Mr.

Grey-Cat cinched the sash and scoured the skillet

and set the droplets skittling. I bled my eye.

The kisses I’ll remember: Molten. Picante. Set

white on uova in purgatorio. Bullseye yolk smeared

on bit lip. Misophonia, stolen from nest.

“Get sleep and a little bit of food,” he said. Such a

senator! He put me in the lilac fridge, no towel, one

slipper. I was his heaven or utterly confused, still

learning to speak.


Cannonade of dresser drawers, shut, shut, shut,

shut. Meet the Amá of Adjectives. O, calm, o canary

horse, canary horse sing, sing-a-sing-sing to pretty

boy’s ears, dimple small as a tear.

Puzzle piece tipped with Paris green. Wool blanket

pulled to burning eyes. Bottomless cellar, sortie,

kiss. Their son versus their sleep? Their son’s ears

are hers.

A game: study seventeen loud semesters and scatter

the card catalog. Add twenty-six inches and

fourteen-point-one-five pounds. Crinkle the summer

plaid swimsuits. Row the hot dogs, ketchup a moat.

Open, poppyseed.

What could they let go?

Whaling Wife, _______ Fife. The bruise provides a

secret room, very _________ and quite ________.

Sure as her semaphoring breasts, he is content. A

puzzle piece slitting the shrink wrap. Mr. You Only

Want to Judge. Mr. You Hate Other People. Mr.

Son Latched to Canary. Fix it. Go on. Weak seal on

the fridge, freezer of granivorous beaks.

JOANNA NOVAK's debut memoir, Contradiction Days, will be published in 2023. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, and elsewhere.

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