Drinking Poison from a Bendy Straw

Robin Gow

“I’m sorry,” I say to the ice cube.
Midday, the heat is shoulder to shoulder.
Is there a better time
to punish yourself?
Taking a suitcase of shoes
out to the garden where all the trees
are brewing their poisons; oak
and ivy and sumac.
Sweat on a tall glass.
Your mother shelling edamame
and telling you she loves you.
The hole in a whole wheat bagel.
You are one chicken breast away
from becoming a prawn.
Pink that only quotation marks know.
You remember your father carved straws
just for mice to travel through.
Tiny mice the size of pinky nails.
You take the straw
and wish you could follow the liquid
into a world of back flips.
It is only a holiday when
you need to not be alive.
This particular poison
is a blood thinner. All your bones
become lasagna. You curl up
in the big boiling basin
to keep drinking—draining
the mug. Taste of mercury
and mood rings
on your lips. You find a therapist
in a stack of needles.
She says, “You should
go and see an expert.”

Robin Gow is a trans poet and young adult author from rural Pennsylvania. They are the author of several poetry books, an essay collection, and a YA novel in verse, A Million Quiet Revolutions (FSG Books for Young Readers, 2022). Gow’s poetry has recently been published in POETRY, Southampton Review, Poet Lore, and Yemassee.

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