Light from Years and Years Ago


You knew how to make nothing of your leaving:

your brother’s baseball glove grease slicked on the hinges,

how to shape your bed to look like your curled body, slipping

out onto the small stage of night. You said you’d meet him,

the tide was low, and he was waiting for you

with a bottle of vodka.


This was the summer you took to running and wheezed

your way to the edge of town stopped-stark by the bay,

the ocean, the interstate. He told you things you already knew

about the stars, how the light was old,


and you cooed in surprise anyway; the bottle stuck

in the sand between you, as quiet as a chess piece.

Your hips were new so you gave yourself a new name,

said you were born somewhere else, smiled, lied

about your age, lied about––


 When you wake it’s morning. Alone and half

in the tide, your panties rough with a handful

of sand. Salt crusting your eyelashes shut, your hair is the same

color as the shoreline. With one purpled wrist, there is a hollow

ache in you, like something’s


gone.  As you rise, the seagulls startle, shocked by your living.

Wings springing away from the driftwood. This morning

is strung together. You stumble home. And it’s different


after that. And by that I mean, it’s no longer a lie to say yes

when your father asks if you remember that one time

when a tiger shark washed ashore. How it was stiff on the sand

and everyone stood in a circle around it. How you,

three years old, slinked through the crowd, toddled over

to the dead thing, kissed it on its nose.

Meghann Plunkett is a poet, coder and lover of dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Academy of American Poets Prize and a recipient of a Juno Fellowship for Womens' leadership. Meghann is currently an MFA candidate at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in Muzzle Magazine, The Paris-American, Winter Tangerine, decomP Magazine, Foundry Journal, storySouth and Simon&Schuster's anthology Chorus among others. Her essays, animated poems and political erasures can be found in Luna Luna Magazine. She is the writer in residence at Omega Institution and the director of The Black Dog Tall Ship Writing Retreat on Martha’s Vineyard, MA. She loves you.