Claire Connolly

Poppy


I.

There will be no funeral for you: the soft circumference

of you in my bed, pressed to my belly, our synchronized breath

a facile dance. I will not get to tribute your mouthful


of crooked teeth, your mismatched eyes, how it feels to know that

I am one of your basic needs. When you came home,

a survival’s toolkit made flesh, I started counting


your life expectancy: 15-18 years. I thought by the time you died,

I would be old enough to say goodbye well. Instead,

that year has arrived, & I grab a handful


of your fur & shove my face into the warm curl of your body,

knowing that the time is coming & I do not know how to use a hatchet

at all.


II.

One summer, I drove to a girl’s house,

skin lathered in coconut sunscreen, a dash of white on my nose

that I missed rubbing in. Back then, I wasn’t warned of loss,


how it peels itself out from under a burnt love until it is the only part of us

left touching the world, until we can’t remember what it felt like to hold something

without hurting.


I don’t recall what was said to me

about how I was no longer wanted, but I still feel targeted by unrequited grief.

With you, I am glad you will never have


to know Gone, that your life will be filled entirely of me until

it is not. & when it is not, you will not know it. When it is not,

only I will.


 

The Nights of Lost Cause


I admit, I wanted love without uncertainty.

Like everyone else, I wanted love like I wanted an object,

a mindless permanence.

I would bring anything into the house & keep it as long as it stayed.


J left for groceries & the rain fell harder than the day before.

I placed the last call I’d make on my own phone

& a car arrived carrying my rescuers - those who saw this reckless mind

& were still there to hold me,

my friends. The space between who they knew me to be

& who I was now

stared at us, making sound after sound, a tender-throated

prey-thing pulled from a jaw.


Glorious windfall. Unknowable chimes in the air. That day was the first day

of my freedom - how it has spoken to me again & again

in its ephemeral bliss. Somewhere on the other side of this ample time

& its distance, I am not a survivor.

I was not carried to a safe house,

did not need a new computer.

Somewhere, I am not worried that I no longer know where she lives,

& if it is here. I said every prayer on those nights

of Lost Cause & each year I will

pray again. This is wonderful.


Or is it sad? If I continue to shout her abuse

into the brittle air, can I keep anyone safe that she claims to love?

I have a hard time believing

a lot of things now, a harder time

being believed. But if this is naive,

I beg you; let me be this. Let me remain this version of me

that feels the right things are possible. For this

is what it is like to write about living, or what it is like

to feel it again. And what if

the ruin suits me?


 

You Are The Only One To Ask Me To Stay, and I Didn’t


I wintered with you,

where others have only sought you in your spring, your heart season, your late summer drip, pastures a soft green pan of biscuits,

I arrived in a metallic sheen (it was cold

that year, wasn’t it?). We were broken

in the opposite direction: you, from attempting to feel

too little and me, from feeling it all at once. I gave you all

I could. You were terribly frightened, the kind of fear with bravado. You sounded like a walk through a forest of twigs; loud and dead.

We talked and everything you said was


what do I do with myself now that I can’t drink

without dying


and when we fucked you got angry when I tried

to look you in the eye. Solstice always comes,

you little blonde tremble. The waxing moon, a lid

opening to see. It is bright though it cannot warm. I can’t tell you who you are without liquor and you can’t tell me who I am

without love. We can both let go and wait for the sun.

 

Baby Gay of Clifden


You were the first to not know enough

to want to keep me. To others, I was that object


they knew was in the house somewhere,

the one they could visualize in different places—


the junk drawer? the garage? the closet? under

the sink?—but couldn’t seem to find.


You didn’t know enough to put me away

for later. You were surprised that I was there,


a mirror you passed every time you went to the kitchen,

out in the open, a beautiful glass, and I thought


this must be what it is when someone loves you.

I thought this must be what it is like to be seen,


but really, you just didn’t know enough to be ashamed

of this reflection. When we say queer


we mean the times our fathers made us bleed,

how we have learned to grasp hands tighter,


like a tangled necklace, when someone stares in the street,

to not let go as they try to unravel us.


We mean queer like you better call the jeweler if you want to keep this

chain, and when you came to know this word


outside the confines of the beautiful inside,

the knowing was an ocean.


I understand the sea legs of your heart, my dear. I was happy

to row you out. You don’t know enough


to want to keep me

and I am a far worse teacher than water.


I’ll miss you,

I’ll miss you,

I’ll miss you.

 

Poem in the Voice of the Author’s Adultery


We woke up with nothing, didn’t we?

We cut off our funding to feed our groin.

Our fiancé had a West Manhattan bank account,

and thought that she could cover us in coin

to replace the beggar in you.

How many times do I have to tell you that you

are never to be trusted with anything nice?

We are a city of mouths, picking up these nice and

lovable things and exploring them with our tongue,

telling them we love them while we keep

chapstick and spearmint gum in our pocket

in case you meet someone cute at the bar.

I would never wish you upon love, upon goodness.

Remember what happens when you try

to be good and loved? Remember grade one, you studied

so hard for that math test after failing the first one.

There were five rows of sixteen tables, starting with two

times two. Two timing, you pressed your finger

so hard into your pencil it left a mark that would

later become calloused. The next day, you were pulled

into the principal’s office with your mother

and you screamed your innocence over and over again.

They wouldn’t believe you, nothing you did

could make them believe you, did you even believe you?

But you didn’t cheat. You didn’t cheat that time.

You didn’t cheat, but realized right then

that you should’ve.


 

Claire Connolly (they/them) is a queer, genderfluid, and trans poet that splits their time between the Pacific Northwest of the USA and Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland. You can read their work in Impossible Archetype, Splonk, Anti-Heroin Chic, and more. Find them on instragram @itshiptobeclaire or at their website www.claireconnollypoetry.com