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Leanna Petronella

When Told to Let Go

Girl, I see you:

the last shining bead

still faithful to the necklace.


You do the work of jewels, 

but the world calls you seed,


insists on watering you,

imagines an orderly thirst.


The world wants your mind

up a bee’s ass, wants you craning

through pink petals to ogle


the sky’s cornered gold throb.

The world says grow –


No. Girl, jagged scrap

learning roots and not bloom, girl

they say is clinging to a worm,


I love the dirt-teat too,

a soothing pink body


that like a memory

halves, and grows back,


and halves again, 

and grows back again –


I unlace myself from the trellis.


Bloom is a levitation.

I’ve tried it, stretching on my toes,

as if the only way for me is up,


as if dirt were not the final blanket,

cuddled bones sucked tender –


Girl, you can be a girl.

You can yearn inside your hull,

you can abstain from chlorophyll,


you can call your loss

the only moment of your life,


you can bury it and say,

this is what happened,

again –

Leanna Petronella.jpg



Leanna Petronella’s debut poetry collection, The Imaginary Age, won the 2018 Pleiades Press Editors Prize. Her poetry appears in Beloit Poetry Journal, Third Coast, Birmingham Poetry Review, CutBank, Quarterly West and other publications. Her nonfiction appears in Brevity and Hayden's Ferry Review, and her fiction appears in Drunken Boat. She holds a PhD in English and Creative Writing from the University of Missouri and an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas. She lives in Austin, Texas. Her website is

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