Julia Cohen

The Ache The Ache

Standing in a raggedy yard as Jen takes
photographs to send her sleeping boyfriend
we consider rent & location. We consider
biking in winter. Selah smells good today
& I tell her so, her kimono reminds me how
as a child I searched for an object
to make me unique. Is effortlessness a personality trait?
I tried a ring on each finger. I tried Billie Holiday.
I tried root-beer milk. Objects cannot do this.
Sommer is due August 30th & Farrah is having
a boy. In Turkey, Julie, mountainous with twins.
Baby Ione gurgles through the phone as I talk to her mother.
Frogs in kiddie pools will collect into temporary pets.
I don’t own a couch anymore so my dog sits in the chair
next to me & suddenly it feels like a waiting room.
If you’re with someone when they want to die then
you’re a type of weather. As a gift my sibling replaces
my bicycle’s stolen tire. My sibling with lighter tresses.
With no tonsils & faith in this country. I’m here because
I’m not ready to leave the feelings. Each feeling
a lung swelling like linens on the line’s breeze. To let
the yard fill. Seth, Emily, Brian in Massachusetts
with the mussels & thin steeples—my feelings will visit.
Disclosures: I’ve read The New Yorker since
4th grade which probably makes me a jerk; I’d twirl
my hair non-stop if I could; washing dishes
is the only chore I like; I choose the sea;
sometimes instead of conjuring the flower’s design
I see its name in white reflective letters & blame
street signs in Denver; I break & lose sunglasses
because new weather crushes memory. Umbrellas, too.
The closest I get to anger is sadness. If we could
inhabit feelings more than spaces. Or, this space
starts a feeling I can carry somewhere else.
I vacuum before I leave. Coastal kinship &
milkweed for monarchs. Certain anxieties I seem
to welcome: let the gauge hit empty before refilling
the tank; wait for the due date to send
the electricity check; the tallest bookshelf tilts
precariously forward. That I will fail to
understand what I read. Driving my sibling
to the airport in a borrowed car we pass
Dahlia Street. I walk the perimeters of my apartment.
Who beheaded my camera? Do I remember
the names of all my teachers? What year was I
most confident? These words I say in my head
most often: magenta, faith, lilacs, Rachmaninoff, the sea.
I think the prairie is only good for
watching lightning bounce back
to the sky. I have buried objects
in a yard I do not want found. I’m trying
to react to myself. Above ground. To find
faith in language’s failures. What is okay to cultivate?
Is art the only tangible object?
Weather does not hold feelings of its own.

Julia Cohen is the author of Collateral Light (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2013); Triggermoon Triggermoon (Black Lawrence Press, 2011); and a collection of lyric essays forthcoming with Noemi Press this fall. Her work appears in places like DIAGRAM, Banango Street, and Kenyon Review Online.She lives in Chicago now.

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