Karissa Morton


You fed me your lips through prison bars,
told me you were a butterfly—
no monarch, but milkweed, ringlet, satyr.

You called me butcher, starbaby,
called me every morning, crying—
but only now does it strike me—

I should have stopped you,
should have woven a nacelle of my arms,
used my mouth as a dropper

as your splintering body sang of wingbeat,
spelled caesura. But instead,
my silkworm and seabreak,

your name has become my pilgrimage.
I think of the way you would take polaroids of shadows.
I still do that sometimes—

like trying to feed apples to your ghost,
or sitting in the park, writing apologies
to the wasps for the smell of gingko.

So while I’m at it, no, I never found a way
to pry the pink candlewax from your hardwood
or take back what the newspaper printed

about you. I’m sorry the earth
crashed through our vineyard of glass,
and for the mosquitoes and the buttons and spools of thread.

I’m sorry I let the desert swallow you, little beetle,
but I still carry your lungs in my coat pocket,
and when winter falls sharp,

I pat them where they ride against my hip,
feeling the small warmths
of your breath, and remember.