by Audra Puchalski
AOL Instant Messenger
Two spiders are living together
on my windowsill. On the beach,
I found some metal, maybe once
a sliver of tin can, warped by the sea
and polished smooth. I wanted nature
to shred and twist and shine me,
too, into an unrecognizable
beautiful fragment. Optimism is my shtick
IRL but here I can be as fucking tragic
as I want, because AOL Instant Messenger
is being retired and it taught me everything
I know about love, taught me intimacy
across distances which is the only kind
I ever mastered. See? Drama. I never used to do
embarrassing stuff like this—except on AIM.
The domestic-partnered spiders settle in
for the night. Hey spiders. Sup.
Not much, u?
It’s Important to Be Adorable
Example: a stuffed cat, her kittens
stored in a secret velcro pouch
inside her body. Gross, yet soothing:
the soft pocket making bodies seem
manageable. I thought by now I’d be
marble, I’d be wind in clover,
I thought I would open and close
clean like a door, neatly hung on my house,
safe yet kinda free. Yes, I fantasize
about becoming a door. Doesn’t everyone?
Doesn’t everyone squander their austerity
on trips to the pharmacy for Prozac
for their dog? This desire: I quench it
and I quench it until finally it breaks.
The Secret Garden
It’s summer here, as opposed to summer
never coming like it usually does, at least
not in any form I recognize. I just want
things to come to me in forms I recognize!
The cashier at the bougie home store
said, Give your plants a name—
you’re not gonna let Carol or Josephine die.
So maybe the real treasure was the friends
we made along the way. The broccoli
has made no food, only small yellow flowers
so I say, What beautiful flowers! What a productive
abundant garden! In truth, the garden is full
of mysteries: path of flat stones leading
to nowhere; fruit trees full of, apparently,
death; a locked room none may enter.
Strange women who sneak in to steal our pagoda,
our large rocks, our rotten lemons.
Hardy, invasive foliage that defies the odds
and dies! A complete nasturtium takeover!
It’s weird out there—totally
unpredictable, wild nature.
Audra Puchalski lives and obsesses over hummingbirds in Oakland, California. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan. Her poems have also been published in Parentheses Journal, Superstition Review, and Susan / The Journal.