gender and sexuality

samari zysk

cw: implied transphobia

my eyes pucker like flowers closing at night
sunlight slipped down her nose like a second face

the moment it fell, i tasted honey on my tongue and
she smiled in the shifting shape of a waxing moon

darkness sucked its fingers clean and
spit out the bones —
stars fell with a clatter on the black plate

she said she thought i was beautiful but
i didn’t know what form that word took in her jaw

the water receded within her, something trembled somewhere like an egg hatching
i looked up, even though the lake was staring at me below with its glassy, wanton eye
the night’s belly was swollen from eating the sky

she didn’t hold my hand but the skin prickled on my palm
my eyes shut completely, became flowers; you see, that was the mistake

she pounced like a fox and ran away
with petals in her snarl

but who would stop a fox with petals
between her teeth? such an innocent and
useless prize. i might as well have given them to her
they were only important to me, after all

the darkness slung volleys of wind
my throat rasped with everything i couldn’t see anymore

my eyes died in her mouth anyway. she wouldn’t
think they’re beautiful in daylight
somehow, that’s what i mourn the most: the uselessness of it

if she would have asked, i would have given
her flowers and put them in water so they
could have a home with her
only people who have considered their
flowers appreciate others’

but she didn’t. i would have given them to her
i promised the sky i would give them to her. i would
have given her witness

closed my eyes for her, too
if she’d have seen that it was a living thing and

not something to decorate her incisors
darkness considered me, and lay down behind my body
somewhere, my flowers were dying, my eyes will never quite open all the way

the lake’s eye slid shut

Samari Zysk is a queer Jewish poet who is an MFA student at Mills College. They are also an editor for Maw: Poetry Magazine. You can find their work in Ghost City Review, Cypress Literary Journal, and Brave Voices Magazine. You can also visit them at They currently live in Kent, Washington.

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