Red Geraniums

or: It takes days before I can distinguish the sound of your breath between just-before-sleep and sleeping. I call it a cicada, you call it a locust. Regardless it is my responsibility to shuffle it into your winter boot and release it onto the patio.

or: For my birthday, I receive a pot of red geraniums. For my birthday, precipitation and the promise of a hurricane which quiets before it arrives, hush of a child discovering himself in church. But I have always preferred for us an auditorium. A podium and a little stage with a red velvet curtain and a photo of an old white man neither of us have met. There you can talk and I can listen, and then I can talk too, into the echo of a half-cocked microphone so we hear our own voices thrown back.

or: I don’t need an apology from you. I just need a place to put these geraniums. How about here behind us as we stand in front of each other not speaking for once, naked and both a little uncomfortable? We each hold a geranium like a balloon, clasped in a fist which fears forgetting. How about we let them grow, too big and awesome, petals falling and covering our bodies, landing every which way, a little soft and flimsy?

or: I wish I had learned how to say it better, differently. On stage, too loud. And are you seated too far back, or am I having trouble seeing?

or: A very small audience knocking on walls as a stand in for an apology.


Rebecca Valley is a poet and essayist from Saint Albans, Vermont. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Rattle, Figure 1, Up the Staircase Quarterly, ELKE: a little journal, and more. She was the winner of the 2019 Academy of American Poets Prize at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the 2019 Young Writers Project Fellow at the Vermont Studio Center. She is an MFA Candidate in Poetry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she teaches creative writing and composition. She also serves as the founder and editor-in-chief of Drizzle Review, a book review site with a focus on minority authors and books in translation. You can find more of her work at www.rebeccavalley.com .