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by Sam Niven

you are the purebred product
of a monk & a mortician

you sculpture of romance
you wood burning of spite

you keep the furling leaves
of trees that named you

you keep the names of trees
that no longer flourish when the sun

returns to you & the sun
does not always return to you

not to an insomniac with a pineal full of melatonin
not to a hummingbird without a heartbeat

a summer lover in a sweater
a sunburn & iced fingertips

you crave the warmth
you thank the clouds

you are praise graved in gag reflex
you pray to a woman who never learned your name

you pause in the presence of every woman
who’s ever smiled at you

as long as you could pretend
her teeth meant protection

as long as you could pull her
hair back into a floral waterfall

you whose sun-burnt scalp shed
two black & white months onto the back porch

you whose hair has known the bare cold
of the water closet floor more times than

you have fallen asleep because you remember
all the way up to the runaway moon

because you want to feel the sun
sail in reverse because

you’ve seen it fold itself forwards
over & over & over &

you are never satisfied
but you are always full.

Sam Niven is a senior at Brigham Young University. They are majoring in English and minoring in creative writing and editing, with plans to attend graduate school for an MFA in poetry. Sam loves a good button-up shirt, their cat Elvis, and all 32 of their houseplants.