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Maggie Rue Hess

He started writing with his fingernails one October,

sharpened them on excuses empty of regret.

In November he purged his dresser, wardrobe, desk,

binged in fluorescent lights holding the trash bags

filled from the guilty furniture.

One month later he was an immigrant of the gray landscape,

thrilling the bones he’d made brittle from domestic habit.


               For my eyes, only yours

repeating the day’s chord

thrum of meals, conversation, distraction…

…the form of shoulders

turned away,

the absence and misinformation

blotted in notebooks

for years


Eyes, disks weighted with adoration

               tipping upward in

the movement expected of children and lovers,

have no place at breakfast.

               It’s just another kiss, greeting

the rim for a sip, wanting the blood to buzz;

don’t ask me to stay.


We all have untidy hampers, no need

to remind us of the heap. I leave

my earrings all around the apartment,

shiny debris of the workday glinting

from its busy spillage. The unfinished

drinks on my counter are an ode

to the ever-filling sink, its dirty dishes,

rough hands always washing.


               Show all your teeth,

others advised.

               That shows enough.

But she stared too straight

for the flat-lined words

skimming off her lips.

               Feeling fatherless lately,

she should’ve said.

Maggie Rue Hess (She/Her) is a graduate student living in Knoxville, Tennessee, with her partner and their two crusty white dogs. Her work has previously appeared in Rattle, Minnesota Review, Connecticut River Review, and other publications; her debut chapbook, The Bones That Map Us, is forthcoming from Belle Point Press in 2024. She likes to practice latte art and share baked goods with friends.

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