about the author

Kelly Grace Thomas is a Pushcart Prize nominee and 2016 Fellow for the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop. Kelly’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the following journals: Muzzle, PANK, Rattle, Rust + Moth, Crab Creek Review, and more. Kelly works to bring poetry to underserved youth as the Manager of Education and Pedagogy for Get Lit-Words Ignite. She lives in Los Angeles and is working on her debut novel, “Only 10,001.” For more of her work, visit kellygracethomas.com.

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I am No White Dress 

Kelly Grace Thomas

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In the dimly lit diner, he sipped his coffee and
said: pass the hospital.
On the table, funerals sat dirty on plates.
I looked into his empty playground
and only heard grass stains, or monkey bars
All the slides were dressed in black.
No children,
just ants.
Crawling, creeping, dying.
My hand shook as I held
the hospital across the table
Each sickness spilled into his coffee
like milk,
like outbreak.
The taste in my mouth that said: crime unsolved.
A cold case of kitchens and one night nevers.
He raised his cup and said: to slaughter.
We swim in vinegar until our smiles
are as pickled as the sun.

But this isn’t our summer, never will be.
I can’t baseball or Babe Ruth.
I am no white dress.
Only a spill of cavities from the hospitals
that wait in my mouth.
The waitress came over to take our hunger
And asked: over easy or scrambled.
And I could only amusement park,
my mouth a jungle of Ferris wheels.
And over our heads the days floating
away like the thinning shorelines.
Isn’t this how we end seasons?
In the quiet corners of new
school clothes (that prove you change.)
The calendar hung
in his eyes like a raised fist. The sticky table
a reflection pond. I place my hands, these monuments,
next to my empty mug and half eaten cages.
All the hospitals stuck to the bottom of my cup.
We sat until words coppered into fence
A crisscross of things we must climb
Him: This world is a beautiful math problem.
Me: The years are subtracting
and every canyon was a stream
that once called out mother
And got no reply.

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