Sonnet for Fat Purple Figs
by Michelle Hulan
After Sylvia Plath
If the figs on this tree represent a life left unexplored, I’ll pluck dozens, dropping the fat purple ones in the folds of my shirt. I will sit in the shadow of the branches & let the juice rest on my tongue, drip down my neck before I try another & another & another. Though I know each bite is a step in every direction without moving, that tasting is not feasting, that precarity once meant prayer, I will consume enough versions of myself to fill a century, quell my desire to split the world in two. Yes, you will find me here: sticky chin & belly distended with what I’d like to call possibility.
How to Mourn the Loss of Your Brother’s Tenderness
When your brother calls after six months of silence, bring up his friend, Ryan. When he tells you their friendship fizzled out, Ask how Ryan is. When he laughs under his breath & says, still gay, let that sit a moment. Add, surprising yourself, I am different, too & notice how the words come out faster than expected. Consider how he distances himself from your queerness, tells you he will raise his child straight. When he declares it is the norm, question him. When he suggests you are too hung up on words, allow some of his to slip past: can’t decide confused. so serious Keep private. Hold vigil for his lies waiting to be unraveled—observe the exhaustion of extending empathy with none in return. Hold space for your humanity & hang up.
On Becoming My Own God
Have you ever craved the touch of a woman while wrapped in the arms of a man you decided to park your purse next to? Or your shoes, taking up so much floor space they expand into yards, houses with picket fences? I used to think passing cars sound like urban waves. Now, my head banging against the wall drowns out the sound, and I’m thankful for a neighbor who might bang back, yelling, enough with the racket! See, this is the kind of interaction I crave: marble-like human connection without the fuss of intimacy. Would you like to go to a rage room with me? To take a mallet to old narratives and their borders? I once told my professor nothing good comes out of a binary, and he responded by lowering my grade. In the same class, a cocky grad student called Venus of Willendorf the first body positive statue —assuming her breasts, round and sloping like mine would always be outside of peak aesthetic, outside of some form of wanting. I long for my body to become a neutral space, but even these bed sheets feel me and think, how rough. I’m learning to say fuck you better. If this year is a burning pile of plastic with enough fumes to knock out a cockroach, I’ll be my own god taking it day-by-day.