The floor-to-ceiling window peeled open a city
in disquiet, on the Pacific Rim. By day a tulip, by night
a monster. It hung over Russian Hill like a light bulb.
It accepted the visitors like an elevator car.

A large table in the dining room mapped out someone’s
unhappy life, sitting in the wood. We drank & ate in the hill,
in the disquiet of hunger & thirst. We were framed, by love.
At night a bed branded us, in hieroglyphics.

We parsed the rings of unhappiness on our skins,
like animals in the wild. A lemon tree with large fruit
stood guard. Each morning, the apartment woke up
to primary colors, the sunlight beheld in the tulip.

You lay on the threshold, in conversation with monsters.
The tulip fell dark. The cable car on the hill punched
down the street with rehearsed confidence. It makes
a full stop for me.

I survey passengers engaged in modern life,
entangled in cords, listening to the passage of time.
As I fall, silent for now. Hopping off for now,
walking up the hill.

Stella Hayes is the author of One Strange Country (What Books Press, forthcoming in 2020). Originally from an agricultural town outside of Kiev, Ukraine, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Prelude, Small Orange Journal, The Hunger, and Spillway.

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