Temperance






Like any Tucson vehicle your stepfather’s truck peeled into a collage of white and off-white flames. Structures reformed from a five-month long summer of trash bins melted into each other.

Not much to say, I would say license plates out loud. Frequent only because of their infrequency. Alaska. Hawaii. When your mother asked my heritage, you cut her off. Doesn’t matter. Isn’t really something. Then you bought a wok.

I didn’t smoke, but I smoked your cigarettes. We liked the same poets, teal, clunky New Balances, Blood Orange. Oo we said at front doors we liked. We smirked more than we laughed.

I lived where tempered car glass shattered into harmless pebbles, puddled at the curb. I hovered my foot over to mimic a vacation of testing the waters. I fantasized I could explain the laws of thermodynamics as a threshold of empathy where we might venture into error.

I didn’t have furniture. We would lie side-by-side on my ugly wall-to-wall carpeting. Are you at home in your body? I hoped if I said no you would touch me. I once saw you admire our reflection in a storefront. You said you weren’t either. So tall and white. When you put your bee suit over me, I knew it wasn’t unique to mention outer space as soon as the words came out.

You called all your exes they. They ended for neutral reasons. I inherited a dog who bit your calves. Ow you would say slowly in forfeit. You always forgave. You forgave the bees that would sting you when you fed them wildflower patties.

It snowed when you were away pollinating almonds. In my video you could only tell from how the flakes vanished on the dog’s black fur. You sent a picture of white blossoms for miles like a heaven lowered. You had a talent for moving gently. You called it a lack of ambition.






Claire Meuschke is the author of Upend (Noemi Press 2020). She is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and works at an urban farm in Oakland, CA.