the shape of new mexico is almost
an octagon. in my backyard, blades of yucca.
i pretend the grass nameless. my pretending
is an octagon. we must be careful, Vonnegut wrote,
about what we pretend to be. as a child i pretended
my sandbox turtle lived in a town with school
& church. i sit with a feeling, space where language
does not yet live. i squeeze honey from a plastic bear
into my tea. i pretend the bear sleeps in sunflowers.
i pretend the bear is made of honey. my pretending
is a lit candle, an actual purple butterfly.
i hold the mug to my chest & pretend
my insides rearrange like books on a shelf.
my rearrangement is an octagon.
Maggie Graber is a queer poet from the Great Lakes and the author of Swan Hammer (Michigan State University Press, 2022), winner of the 2021 Wheelbarrow Poetry Prize and a 2023 nominee for a Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award. She is a Luminarts Cultural Foundation fellow, a Best of the Net nominee, a former certified Wilderness First Responder, and an MFA graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Her poems have been published in South Dakota Review, The Journal, The Louisville Review, RHINO, Southern Indiana Review, Nashville Review, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Oxford, Mississippi, where she teaches writing at the University of Mississippi, where she also earned her Ph.D. in creative writing. Find her online at maggiegraber.com.