My mother never sang. She watched

Much of my recent work revolves around leaving—leaving behind (and rupturing from) language prescribed to us, or being left in the literal sense of a body absent from a place or from another body. I sometimes have a hard time writing toward or with the people who stick around—including my mother. The speaker anticipates the leaving, and reads leaving into the movement of the ocean or their mother going for a swim. Originally, my intention was to write a funny-ish anecdotal poem about my mother’s obsession with the pocket of true crime media about wives killing their husbands. But the poem decided it was about something else. And, based on the ending, the poem is maybe sort of uncomfortable about being a poem trying to create “stillness.”

those shows where women killed

their husbands in the static night.
Whatever she grew died, or never grew.

The tomatoes not even the blueprint
of a tomato. She would call me

her Eyes. I need my Eyes meant
there was a document with letters

too small, the news scrolling
too fast. I would carry the language

she couldn’t. I was in love before
she was. After our father left,

she moved us to the shore where
the ocean was always teething

like a window. I watched it
like it was escaping from me,

like my heart was a room with oceans
for walls. I remember her

in her bathing suit, her knees
disappearing, then her hips,

the bones that roof over
her breath, and her eyes

anchored to my body in the sand
like a blank space. I used to think

she was apologizing for
the water. Then I learned

what we loved about each other
was stillness. Her garden

skeletal. Her garden fruitless
as the sky. The way she loved

the knife on TV, wet with red
corn syrup. The way I keep her

in this metaphor, a wave
in a photograph

Tyler Raso (they/them) is a poet, essayist, and teacher. Their work is featured or forthcoming in POETRY, The Offing, Black Warrior Review, DIAGRAM, Salt Hill Journal, Split Lip Magazine, The Journal, and elsewhere. They are the author of the chapbook, In my dreams/I love like an idea, winner of the 2022 Frontier Digital Chapbook Contest. They are the 2023-2024 Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center Fellow, and they can be found Tweeting @spaghettiutopia.



Direct Light, Sara Heise Graybeal
What are the plans for the weekend?, Glenn Orgias
Cycles, Nicole Hazan
I Dream of Produce, Z.K. Abraham


Resonance, Shee Gomes
Shocking Stockings, Taryn Riley
Looking into Sunset, Lisa Rigge
Mushroom, Donald Patten
The Masked Nupe Drummers, Abubakar Sadiq Mustapha