Bedtime Story

Once, sorrow was a rock you found on a beach in the winter, a road trip with the boys to the emerald triangle of a golden state. Pot was illegal, except in the white faced towns where the cops stopped at the hostel to dip in the hot tub with locals. You and the crew from Korea played Scrabble a few letters short, ate underdone pasta made in a kitchen with no forks, all the old folks high outside. You drove west to throw yourself at the Pacific’s hard face and found that rock. Red and shaped like a heart, somewhere between a real, lopsided organ and the symmetrical one you’d folded and cut in in elementary school art, it had a nice heft, as big as your palm, and redder when wet. This is my heart of stone you told everyone, its scarred face enough of a metaphor. It followed you from state to state. How long did you need that pocketed planet, that pull, that persistence, how long until you forgot its existence in some box of mementos, your head full with bedtime and drop offs and work, arms reaching for other weather.

Emily Pérez, smiling, wearing red framed glasses and a salmon colored blouse.

Emily Pérez is the author of What Flies Want, winner of the Iowa Prize and a finalist for a Colorado Book Award; House of Sugar, House of Stone, and two chapbooks. She co-edited the anthology The Long Devotion: Poets Writing Motherhood, also a finalist for a Colorado Book Award. A CantoMundo fellow and Ledbury Critic, her work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Copper Nickel, The Guardian, and Poetry. She teaches high school in Denver, where she lives with her family.