Self Portrait near the Orchard

Past the middle of the forest, right before the fence of pine trees,
a woman without any eyelashes lived in a cedar house

notched together with hemp. Sundown; I would visit
with a cup of peach tea & fresh berries under my arm,

talk about the nature of destruction,
about the dry, loud power of a tree snapping in half.

As expected, this woman is my mother & we ignore
conversations about our anger, the sharp heat

rising up & through our throats—
& sometimes we just eat pears, sit & digest

tame light of fermented fruits, fog rising over the evergreens—
some days, I still believe Golems are born from dirt

or healthy marriage. I never told anyone about the nights
in the botanical gardens, about jumping spiders & black flies

I feed to pitcher plants’ acid-filled bellies.
This hunting has substance; feeding a plant a bug, pressing leaves

in my grandfather’s dictionary, crushing clams on the dock,
the mush of blue & raspberries between my fingers

in the summer months, separating sweet seeds, making jam
with my mother, us both learning how to create more earth.

I can’t remember the last time I really felt my hands,
or the seaweed tangled around my feet, that one dream

with the crocodile who ate my forearm, the same arm I used
to collect logs for the sauna, the one with grill marks. I should have

told someone about the itch of a fresh cut before it turned
dry yellow or given more money to all those wet children in Chicago

their faces ducked & shameful in the winter winds, we all,
myself, missing silence or water or orchids.

Plastic Town & Owl

All year my toy city stays in summer time,
the little people sit on their porches later into the evenings
& when it rains, their cocktail umbrellas

wilt & drip bright floral paper through the streets.
This is a town of loved plastic, a town where nothing I touch

can sour, or yell at me from their car windows.
I still believe these things because no one’s corrected me—

four acres of fresh spinach can be contained in a single shed,
or if you anchor Styrofoam to sea ice, polar bears can swim longer.
Sometimes I am so confused

I stop talking altogether: pressure on the base of my foot,
how much anger there is in a morning; your palm

against my headboard in Kalamazoo your voice against the sky
against the walls of my apartment, thoughts of you bringing heat to my blood.

Heat my door reminds me of now
when Miso hunts drying laundry hanging on the doorknob of my bedroom.
For comfort I study the different brick patterns of the buildings

around my apartment & most mornings there’s a reverberation off each,
clean drumming of wind or water against the hard cream chapel, my neighbor’s crisp

gray bricks being slapped by a weed whacker every Tuesday. These
sounds have become an annoying schedule, reminiscent of Fox News
my father watches until early morning. I take another bath—

pages of writing dip into the water & keep dipping lower
all the loose pebbles in my head are getting too loud, something about
news cycles, or maybe the way my brain swivels like an owl’s joint on the spine.

Photo by Horia Varlan

Mary Maroste

Mary Maroste is an MFA candidate at Virginia Commonwealth University and received their BA from Western Michigan University. They are a winner of the 2018 AWP Intro Journals Project, and their work is featured in Mid-American Review, Jabberwock Review, Great Lakes Review, Thin Air Magazine, Winter Tangerine, and The 3288 Review. Their chapbook Blueprint for a Home Without Tampons was published by dancing girl press in 2017. Mary is from Houghton, Michigan, where much of their imagery takes root, but currently resides and studies in Richmond, Virginia.