I stand in the garden, my hands buried to the soil.
The earth cracks open around the cradles of my fists, still frozen.
Last frost deemed the world glacial, inhospitable,
but the radishes and rampions are indifferent; still demand nurturing
from me. I uproot my stiff palms to greet you, invite you inside
for a cup of coffee. Your hair curls, soft against your jaw now—
an unwelcome reminder that you change and I do not see it.
Months slip between us these days, fall into the cracks
where I am a guest in my house.
The cardboard carton of milk in the kitchen is curdled.
I try not to think of my mother as she vacantly poured it in her oatmeal earlier,
just the way she would scrape the mold off loaves
of homemade bread for my bagged lunches: quiet and clinical
in the blue-water light of dawn. I pour the sour milk into the sink,
watch the curds congeal by the drain. A pulpy mess stares back at me,
spoiled in my absence. I am a poltergeist in my mother’s house,
writhing on my childhood mattress and splattering things in her sink,
You push yourself off the counter and wrap your arms around me,
coalescing the frigid clouds of our breath.
You whisper against the pale skin of my shoulder with each kiss;
cushion each press of your lips with a lie about the way you miss me.
I lie back. I feel you wash over me, our bodies the hushing of waves on the shore.
When it is over, we share a cigarette in the seafoam oasis of my childhood bedroom.
I pull on my woolen sweater & you lean into the scratch of my warmth for a slow
moment, then stand up to leave. I stand in the kitchen, my hands submerged in soap and
water. I pour the remnants of our morning into a basin, set the mugs to dry.
In frosty quiet, the radishes and rampions wait; entombed in the arctic earth,
purgatoric through spring.
Kayla Eyler is currently writing poetry and moping around at SUNY Geneseo. She likes vampires, women, tofu, and fresh air. When she isn’t bothering her roommate, she can be found gazing longingly out her apartment window to the parking lot or making a pasta meal.