If You Knew

You arrive late, your husband
on your arm, starfish dangling
from your ears, once you cross
the threshold into the amber room

everyone cheers. I pretend I don’t
know what they’re excited about,
that I’m not aware you won some
grant, funds to investigate a sea

creature never been seen before
by human eyes. I scanned the email
multiple times, digesting your name.
You raise your eyebrows at me.

The woman standing next to me asks
if you’re drunk. I bite my cheeks until
they bleed, I don’t have the strength
to tell her you’re something else

entirely, someone silly from energy
consumed in the room, a sun feeding
hyacinths, even the purple strand in
your hair is glowing, you’ve always

crushed on surfinias, you are lawn fog
waving your arm around to emphasize
an argument, I am tempted to walk
over and bite your dahlia tattoo. Enough

about the flowers, this is about the day
you found me crying on the floor of your
office. Instead of offering me compassion
you told me to get my shit together, salvage

whatever grief-energy I had left to study
million bells, the stems of wishbone flowers,
deep roots, you asked what I knew of moss
and mold spores, why did I draw wounded

animals in the corners of my journal, why
did I keep glaring at your husband, always
wearing makeup even though I cry it off,
is this about the night I left you alone on

the beach, your late grandfather’s blue
pajamas hollowing in the surf, you were
obsessed with a clam on the shore, in half
moonlight everything turned to cobalt, the

next day I returned to write your name in
the sand, peered through a cracked shell
its jagged body red from where it dug into
my heel, you would have liked this, I’ll tell

you about it if you ever meet me across
this room. I place an overripe strawberry
into my mouth. We find each other later
in the wine room, you call me ridiculous

I uncork every Malbec in the room, I’m
casual, I want you to find me entertaining
I don’t know what will happen if you leave
and I’ll be alone with the indoor pool down

the hall, perhaps I’d pour alcohol, watch as
chlorine spoiled everything. Later I’d be in
the kitchen, the guests will be in bed, in low
fridge light I’ll peel black-and-blue petit filet

with my fingers and teeth, shove fingerling
potatoes between back molars, I’ll even eat
those leftover silver dollar pancakes you
hate, and yes, I’ll cry.

Sam Moe is the first-place winner of Invisible City’s Blurred Genres contest in 2022, and the 2021 recipient of an Author Fellowship from Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. Her first chapbook, “Heart Weeds,” is out from Alien Buddha Press and her second chapbook, “Grief Birds,” is forthcoming from Bullshit Lit in April 2023. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @SamAnneMoe.

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