Heather Cox

Swan Song for 2005



I was still growing. I loved a girl

and she told me maybe in college

but as soon as the words escaped

her lips, her stomach plumped

with two little girls. I never counted

the times her tongue touched mine,

but it was five-hundred and forty-six.

August was dry as dust, but her lips

were wet with cinnamon chapstick

and her smirk upturned on one side

like it had been caught with a fishhook.

We swam the river all summer.

Her bikini began to shrink, her eyes

like sun on the water—on the water

her reflection backstroked

and breaststroked, bootleg booze

smeared my vision between waves

and rays. I saw her face when bearded bodies

tried to flip my switch. I said her name

once, but it was too humid for him

to hear. I was still growing, the men

were still hammering nails into the old

town to keep it from breaking. College

brought a flood, but what washed

away? The thunder distracted me

from the lightning. I slept in a nest

of ashes with nothing else to burn

but her memory from my tongue:

it stung like ghost pepper, or simply

a ghost.


HEATHER COX edits Ghost Ocean Magazine and the chapbook press Tree Light Books. Heather’s work appears or is forthcoming in Barrelhouse, Indiana Review, RHINO, Threadcount, Bodega, Nightblock, and elsewhere. Heather is the recipient of a Luminarts Fellowship and has been featured in the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust’s Emerging Chicago Artists Series. Though she lived in Chicago for most of the past decade, Heather now lives in Colorado with her wife and their two dogs and can be found online here.