Brain Weeds

There is seaweed in my brain.
Warped folds of coral tissue sprout
delicate, watermelon-
rind romaine.

It sways languidly
under the current.
Tranquil,
false.

Be grateful, they say
you would have never known
without them.

But now youʼve seen them,
crack your skull open.
That aquarium,
pour it in the ocean.

Spikes & Feathers

I like people
for their hardnesses:
the spikes that obtrude
out of their backs
in defense from
vultures and hawks.

But I love people
for their softnesses:
the iridescent feathers
they collect one by one
and brush across their face
when no one is looking.

Checkout Line

Bill looked into
the customerʼs eyes
with accidental sincerity,

“Iʼd give anything
to get back the year
my daughter was seven.”

The womanʼs face fell
looking for her lucidity
on the floor.

And Bill—pursed cheeks
and a tight clasp
on a brown bag.

Everyone is Dead and Gone

After the mourning had dispersed,
She found herself growing a garden
with fennel,
purple carrots,
and dinosaur kale.
Cooking complicated meals,
vacuuming for hours and hours
in a house emptier
than it was large.

It dawned on her:
her life was no longer for,
and it hardly was.
She had been content
with the matriarchal duties,
but now, she felt a pang of release.

She stopped cooking.
Ate instant oatmeal
and canned tuna instead.
She began experimenting with mild mess;
dust to gather,
chairs untucked,
unmade her daughterʼs beds
for the sake of nostalgia.
She rotated rooms
slept in,
imagining the mundane growth
inflicted on each of her children.

For a time,
she woke up before dawn
to watch the light creep into the house
and read by the fresh yellow sun.

For a time,
she stayed up late
sitting on the porch,
absorbing nighttime humidity
listening to the susurrus of cicadas,
wind through the palms,
and the vegetal rattle
of mysterious dark.

Aubrey Gates King

Aubrey Gates King is a poet and writer based in Portland, OR, though she has lived in six states, several cities, and three countries. After graduating with a degree in English Literature and Chinese, she moved to China for a teaching fellowship in a rural village. She is a member the Attic Institute's Poets Studio, People’s Ink, and the Poetry Society at Pacific Northwest College of Art.


Cover image by Ash Ponders

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