In the evening you brought me tulips,
long-bodied, a red wash on the petals
like a blush, an opened artery.
They reached towards my pillow
like dawn. You told me your mother said
they would not last long, but you wanted
to save their yellow from the cold eye
of the grocery store. They will die within the week.
I will bury them in the forest.
I will bury them like something loved.
Atlas of Legal Medicine
There must be a record of you left intact—
you, once alive. In the book, the murdered
are paper-bodied, ribs a canopy grotesque.
As evidence you become teacher,
surgical directive— there’s so much to learn
from a weapon’s mark. Somebody else
will write your ending & you’ll be left
with no story to tell, no story at all,
a red-haired man exposed to time:
pockmarked & cock-stiff,
cold & criminal. Valuable
for the case study, & nothing more.
They will catalogue your organs & wounds.
Press gloved fingers to bone.
Drain motive out with your blood:
the river running through you.
No name, no sound.
Night of the Living
I close a magnolia blossom in my hand
& squeeze until it becomes a wet seed again.
When the roots start growing into my palm,
I shake free & start running down the highway.
I hitch a ride on the interstate bus. The driver says
I know you from the kindling factory
but I never worked there. When we’re stopped
at a gas station, the passenger across the aisle
shows me the switchblade in his boot, the twin scars
behind his ears, & offers me his homeland—
the whole country, he says you can become
a monster there. I catch a vine hanging
out the window & swing through the magnolia forest
that has followed me here: everything around me
has bloomed—I can no longer stay.
Sophia Holtz is a writer, performer, and sometimes-illustrator. Her work can be found in Consequence, Neon, and Muzzle, among other places.