Two poems by Robin Gow • Empty Mirror

behind the glass / credit: embehind the glass / credit: em

Ballet With No Dancers

Each girl I’ve loved has been hallway—
a dancing
a mouth to lay down in.

Her hands drew my soul out
in sweat.

She told me her stories
of not wanting to be a girl
and I gave her mine.

Is there a gender
not defined by how you want
to be devoured?

She asked me once why I don’t read
aloud and
I built this room inside her just for that.

She would open her mouth
and out came my poems.

I would dance
without my body
and she’d watch.

The stage carries bowl of hot lights.

Seats in theaters are never
very comfortable. That’s so

you have to share something
in common with the stage.

She took her feet off

and only kept their shadows.

Is This the First Time You’ve Tried to Talk to the Dead?

We come with shovels—
jabbing them into the dining room table.
What is left to talk about if I don’t talk about
the body? If there is no body
to discuss.
There is soil in every object just
beneath the moist surface.
Fingernails on my throat—
I spit my dirt into the cosmos
a dropped pot of skeletons.
We have a fire escape we could
cover with herbs. A rose bush
sprouting from the only way out.
Shovels and spades and rakes.
Kissing a mirror not out of vanity
but to tell the creatures in there
to come out.
I set leeks out on the kitchen table.
Before my grandmother was dead
I pretended she was because
that was easier. What does she know
about me that I could never
see for myself.
Coming to terms with being
the only creature
still pouring with thought
I plea with ghosts
to tell me a story—to throw glasses
down on the floor.
I want a poltergeist—
I want a possession.
Here there are my limbs what
will you make of them.
So so much dirt.
Cannibalism of a memory
I play back to myself
on video tape.
Hold hands with ghosts—fingers
cold and nervous
a link—a soft chain.
Ghosts asking ghosts
asking ghosts—
how far down does this go?

Robin Gow

Robin Gow is a trans poet and young adult author. They are the author of Our Lady of Perpetual Degeneracy (Tolsun Business Relationships 2020) and the chapbook Honeysuckle (Finishing Line Press 2019). Their first young adult novel, A Million Quiet Revolutions is forthcoming winter 2022 with FSG. Gow’s poetry has recently been published in POETRY, New Delta Review, and Washington Square Review.

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