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In a Diner at Great Sand Dunes Oasis, Colorado 

The chalk taste of prescription pill 
washed down
with too-sweet lemonade. I only take it 

because you do, and I wonder 
if you get high so you can tolerate me. 
Through the window, 

hummingbirds murmur
around bird feeders. The first time 

I ever saw a hummingbird I was on your lap 
in your parent’s backyard, your arms 
wrapped around me while you packed 
a bowl on my left thigh. I loved 

how the bird pulsed through sunlight, 
how its wings moved 
so rapidly I could not see them, 
an opal, darting on air 

like a searching tongue. 
Your voice 

could be all syrup and big teeth. 
You told me hummingbirds 
are the only birds 
that stand still in mid-air
or fly backwards. Now, with two fingers, 

I pick up a pen and doodle Oasis 
in black ballpoint onto your arm. 

You are uncertain. 

The curtains on the diner window 
are checkerboard yellow. Like large bugs
hummingbirds continue to swarm.

When the waitress arrives 
with our dinner, we are silent 
and dry-mouthed. I watch 

as you slice chicken into pieces 
and with each shriek of your knife
against ceramic plate I feel 
the same tenderness in the way 
you cut yourself away from me. If only 

I could beat my wings and fly back to 
when I was sticky with summer 
and settled on your lap, 
when I had no idea how much I envied 

a hummingbird’s suspension 
in air. Its ability

to be momentary, and full of nectar.

Case Study

I took photographs of everything.

The living room. The empty shoebox. The wolf

who arrived & became my friend. The childhood

& its

of broken plates. There were the protests from

the white picket fence, the Dead End sign

on the cul-de-sac


The telephone rang bright orange,

the plastic take-out containers


like little Greek ships in the dirty sink water. There were the nights I slept on my mother’s floor

& could feel the dark vibrating on

my skin.

My mother’s reading glasses 

blue around her neck & my brother

asleep in the basement.

We were like down

hanging side by side in the
front hall closet. At night,

a soft gauze of yellow light

over the windows of every house on our block, quiet &

buttoned up,

lawns dressed in ermine fur.

In my bedroom, I peeled

from the

Chloe Marisa Blog is a poet and educator from Huntington, New York. Her work has appeared online at Bad Pony Magazine, Shrew Literary Magazine, and Ragazine. She received the Alfred Ben Dixon Award for best honors thesis for her chapbook in 2016 while earning her BA in English and creative writing from Binghamton University. She is a recent graduate from New York University’s MFA program in poetry, where she taught creative writing. She loves wisteria plants & oyster shells. 

Featured photo courtesy of Lucy Orloski.