i am an ending, she says, and holds out a hand. this world burns from
its molten heart to its flickering ozone, and you can taste it all. these
things are quick to fall: human pride, the executioner's sword, the
flood. to reason with the earth is futile as contesting gravity, but burn
enough rocket fuel, and still, the stars will come closer for you. doubt
is the whetstone tied to your neck. better to sink under the foam-lace
waves by choice than to fail in flying, you say. breathe in salt and spit
out pearls. look out your window, she says. water pools in the garden
and spills from the roof. the birdbath holds only stagnation.
magnolias ripped open, the earth drowning itself.

red brick sidewalks slick with rain. tadpoles in the transient puddles.
draw the curtain closed or tear it in two: the light will come in either
way. spit resurrection out like a broken tooth and feel the neon buzz
of the nerves left exposed, sentiment unmasked & awake. she comes
with the dawn, bright like lightning, and turns the earth to glass. wash
away the old pain to let it end, she says. this is what the rain was for
all along. i am a beginning, she says.



i. shield hand

hope makes my tongue taste all of
leather & sand, the snowplows that
scrape the road calling my name in
a way that you did not. i stained
the family car’s upholstery with
road salt and melted snow. i call that
a metaphor, now:

all the ways you sank into my skin.
all the ways the winter night taught
me how to stay silent under city-
glow skies. to curl in, hibernate. to
keep my head down.

ii. sword hand

steel-bite love & the way you look
at me like you could devour every
part of what i am, poison ivy &
all. when i was young, i believed
that swallowed apple seeds would
grow into swallowed apple trees &
spread roots in my stomach & burst
from my abdomen. we are like this:

a growth in the dark, a childhood
impossibility. how does it feel to
reach like this? how does it




there’s graffiti on the subway walls, 
bleeding against dirty tile. on the
other side of the tracks, someone
has painted let me start again in
frantic letters. you wonder if they
should have added a please. mercy
always comes easier when you beg
a little. this is what time has taught
you: how to scrape your knees
kneeling on concrete to worship
a city that swallows your prayers
like it swallows lives. how to bear
witness to the consummation of
everything in you, spread like paint
across the tracks, and the endless
white light bearing down on you.
you want to tell the begging walls
that you forgive them. we can start
, you say, if you show me how.


AYAME WHITFIELD lives on the East Coast of the US and never stops writing (but probably produces too much poetry about the moon and the ocean); thinks flowers and cats and eating berries are the best things in life; drinks far too much tea; and can be found @avolitorial on Tumblr and Instagram.