FLORIDA, SEPTEMBER

     Aimee Seu

           

     for Emma                                                                                  

 

                                                                                                                                                                              …the state

                                                                                                                                                                         with the prettiest name

                                                                                                                                                                         —Elizabeth Bishop

 

In the dream a dazzling rain, I dragged your hips toward me and everything bloomed open.

 

Rewind—I move somewhere the sky is bigger than it used to be. The willow pours

its hair forward into the creek magdalenely where I always think about rolling up my jeans

 

and wading through with you, to examine small fragile things and place them back

in the clear, shallow water rushing over rippled silt. But instead, I walk beside it on the path’s

 

tunnel of dappled wet, longing. Here in this bewildering, light-sodden afterlife, alien plants

keep shuttering into black velveted dragonflies, furred bees smolder through their woodlands

 

of daisies and labyrinths of vines, palms cause tiger-striped shade. I miss my self that didn’t

make it here, who didn’t survive this change, ghost I released to the streets of an exed out city

 

to be swept further in by the windtunnels of alleyways, her silvered hands cupping a flame

to her mouth like a small cathedral’s glowing nave. To circle forever all her idolatry, wraith

 

from neon to neon hunting poison-laced thrills, clicking her tongue’s jewel, charmed

cobra coiled to strike if ever the music stops. She’d wanna die that way, there. And it would be

 

too sad to see such a wild thing broken into the shape of this new calendar’s neat boxes.

But I admit somedays I hear all the desire I thought I slipped the noose of or patted down,

 

arriving like an army over the ridge, calling my name, and I have to run again. And then you

because my brain, I guess, always has to orbit someone. My mouth waters when I think about

 

the backseat of your car. Like my exiled father’s loathing when he began to dream in English:

my new fantasies solidify this life. Here, now. In the dream you and I drive out to the country

 

and I kneel out the backdoor and undo your bathing suit bottoms

with my teeth and the ties come apart like time.

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Aimee Seu is the author of Velvet Hounds, winner of The Akron Poetry Prize. She graduated from the University of Virginia Creative Writing MFA Poetry Program in 2020 as a Poe/Faulkner Fellow where she was recipient of the 2019 Academy of American Poets Prize. Other awards she’s received include the 2020 Los Angeles Review Poetry Award, the 2020 Henfield Prize for Fiction, the 2016 Academy of American Poets Prize at Temple University, the Temple University 2016 William Van Wert Award, and the Mills College Undergraduate Poetry Award. She was a semifinalist in the 2019 New Guard Vol. IX Knightville Poetry Contest judged by Richard Blanco and a finalist for the 2020 Black Warrior Poetry Prize judged by Paul Tran. Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction have appeared or have forthcoming publications in Ninth Letter, Pleiades, Los Angeles Review, BOAAT, Redivider, Raleigh Review, Diode, Minnesota Review, Blacklist, Adroit, Harpur Palate, and Runestone Magazine. She is a Philadelphia native currently living in Tallahassee where she is a Poetry PhD student at Florida State University.