Emily O’Neill




she’s blue at the edges & her feet won’t touch the floor.


What difference does the year make. Isn’t she still


here. Isn’t she floating in her nightgown


coming in through the bay window


to face the couch as if sitting down hadn’t bled


from her timeline two sequels ago.


Where was the sun when we tried to make tea with it.


Where is it now that she’s moonflower open


like always. What to say to the missing. Do we stay


frozen in time same as them. Am I a child until someone kills me.


Was she. Did she die or get cut in the rewrite. Is she only in her trailer.


Could she fidget less in wardrobe. Talk back only between takes.


Take fewer breaks. Take off her dress for the burial.


Hang it over a chair. Slide her skin down a hole


& ride the darker skins of plums back to the outside.


Into the good dirt. Gone like she meant it. Isn’t she still.


Doesn’t she hate to repeat herself. Why bother dying more than once.


Can’t wring life from a cut rose unless you bury it. Did you think


of what might happen. Do you need to skirt the question. The distance


between our mouths & our mouths is opening. Did she ever


actually flower. Did she bother bearing stone fruit. Did she hum


or imagine her son chasing after her daughter with a hunting blade


or butcher’s knife. Would that make it easier. In the kitchen


they look more like siblings. Mother wakes up as a bruise


yellowed between her two children. What woman offered


old growth wouldn’t make a cutting. Try


a second time. Doesn’t she hate repeating


herself. Won’t she until the right version takes.


EMILY O’NEILL is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent work can be found in Five Quarterly, inter|rupture, and Powder Keg, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize. She teaches writing at the Boston Center for Adult Education and edits poetry for Wyvern Lit.