Chloe Firetto-Toomey

Do you remember eating Scottish oysters in Kew Gardens, the bridge overhead? It was Valentine’s Day, light shifted through the Victorian greenhouse.

CABBAGE FLOWER

I don’t know where I am. The planet is a blister pack foiled in stars.

Every ovum wants to expand, to unfurl with cactus flowers
or whale sounds to a series of low frequency pulses.
Barnacle geese synchronized swimming-
do you arrow home?
Look down the line.

Look down the line before you travel Roman cobblestones,
pigeons on every statue head in Europe.
I left for unknown places with unknown purpose.
Do you remember eating Scottish oysters in Kew Gardens, the bridge overhead?
It was Valentine’s Day, light shifted through the Victorian greenhouse.

Here, the sun is a gargantuan yolk punctured at moonrise.

Every moonrise mother says come home-
come back lavender honey, poached egg, lost key in the sand.

In the sand, a tiny hawksbill presses towards lamplight illusions of moon.
I smoke a pack of cigarettes retracing steps and retrieving shapes-
like bronchioles are grape stems, red balloons or planet-seeds.

This is a natural pattern: logarithmic spiral in baby romanesco.

Baby romanesco torn from the stalk,
add garlic to it
turn up the flame.
Keep it covered, simmering bone broth for my lover.
Come here my little cabbage flower, he says,
Mon Petit Chou Fleur.

Mon Petit Chou Fleur, My Little Cabbage Flower,
it’s rainy season again and we’re still flicking cigarette butts
in the canal as parrots pass overhead
full from bottlebrush flowers.
Mum called today.
She dreamt I was old,
a raisin on the cafeteria floor,
a husk in aerial roots,
in her dream I say,

I’m not coming home.

I go home in memories of memories:
wood smoke, paper crowns
pulled from Christmas crackers,
eggshell clouds cracking over the elm trees.

Outside the cafeteria, a barnacle goose is besotted with its reflection.
Goose shit creates a galaxy splattered on concrete.
I miss mum,
school lunches of ham and pickle sandwiches,
cheese and onion crisps
destined to be soggy
and crushed in hallows of my backpack.

In hallows of my backpack are fresh cut keys,
an empty blister pack and dirty Tupperware.
Protein threads sail the ivory surface of eyeballs,
they are like grape stems, elusive.
Travel to me, Mon Petit Chou Fleur.
I always think of you,
raisin on the cafeteria floor, baby romanesco, cabbage flower-

where did you go
after we swallowed
those star throated
water lilies?

AN ART MODEL CONTEMPLATES FIVE LINES ANNE CARSON

I am asking you to study the dark.
What shapes do you see?
Where is the darkest dark?
See how this arc is a black banana
that snuggles the under pillow of my breast?
Look for shapes of light.
Where is the lightest light?
It’s along the handlebars of my collarbone.
There’s a diamond in my diaphragm.
Don’t look at the paper.
Forget about where the line chooses to go.
Don’t take your eyes off the shapes
of light, the shapes of dark.
You have fifteen minutes.

What sense could there be in things?
the cat thinks, keeping dry
in the afternoon rain
on the AC unit
as he studies the world.
The sky is nothing but weeping fog
porous asphalt.
Gravity and water:
a subtle percussion
a dim symphony.
What sense is there
when all things constructed
fall off the edge of the world?
There are no lines in nature.
Look at rows of traffic
stretching to infinity, to the water’s edge.

Shapes of life zoom and vanish around us.
The line is tired of longing.
How long until you come home?
He asked, years ago.
Mouthed it across the wide
oval of the Atlantic
and I remember thinking,
how long is a piece of string?
This is how long
my hour of longing stretches,
seven years and counting.
Seven years and the coil is now the length
of the shoreline or maybe it is taut flat?
Sand pipers can no longer nest there
rather tap their swift feet
toward the tide and away again:
an invisible game of tug of war.
This is how the mind oscillates
between love and longing
because you can’t have a line
without making a point first.
There is a pyramid between my breasts.

Did I fall off the edge of the world?
They saw my head jerk forward
awake in the shallows
or should I say, shadows?
Sit still in the portrait of moments
in that weak and wavering light.
One cold forgotten breast
anchors my weight in the seat.
My small robe carves a precise line across my chest.
This is the dissecting shadow they want
the sharp edge of light
intersticing my body into manageable portions.
How could I not float to sleep in thirty minutes of stillness?
Feet black from charcoal dust, heels resting on the wooden frame.
Resume my pose, my chin on my hand, like a saint on a pillar.

On the edge of the world is this room of women.
We listen to one another breathe in this damp room
the fan a whirling dervish.
I try not to watch them.
I breath into my ankle
it shakes under the twist of pressure.
What is this entanglement with memory
which comes with stillness and observation?
The water comes down against the window.
The music of it
women drag their charcoal across paper.

There was a time
when a tear rolled like a head
down the hill of my cheek
and they kept on drawing.
It was a moving target
through the darkest shapes.
They map out every one of them.
Complete lines without looking:
Moments elongate and drop like shadows.