With a pouch of tobacco

I lie upon marigolds,

watching dirt beyond my left thigh

rise and circle around

toward me.

It notices

the spec of electricity nestled

between my stomach

and my diaphragm. The real

size of me

is that spec, a pinhole,

something like a star.

This mechanism has been

locked into my lineage. It’s


to burn magnesium in

my shins,

but my bones are

becoming candles

and the flames are replacing

marigolds. In Irene’s garden

I piece together strips of

orange track, and rinse

cucumber. Two

giant leaves unfold from

the sprouts

of my shoulders


which keep me fed.

Brian Janisse (Dec. ‘18) adds, “I sat by some flowers to roll a cigarette and write a few lines, and the smell of marigolds came with an unexpected rush of childhood memories. This poem is a meditation on self-identity and embracing unwelcome memories with compassionate detachment. Ms. Irene ran a daycare that I’d gone to. I hadn’t wanted to go, and recall a feeling of deep injustice because I didn’t have a choice.

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