I Forgot to Tell You

That the moon hovered on your shoulder until it sobered and rolled
down your arm onto Broad Street, a bright clattering of metal, onto
its side like a quarter or nickel; how I got a ticket parking on this street
once, though my pockets stuffed with change, and when I went to pay
the fine, County Clerk security asked me to remove my belt, but the buckle
caught on my jeans’ button, silver slung across linoleum and the guards
didn’t frisk me or make me walk under the arm; how I wish, just then,
I had a gun. Not to use it, never to use it, but just to know I was getting
away with something like how, in February, I carried a knife through
Nashville airport security and threw it away in the women’s restroom.
I’d forgotten it in my bag after slicing an avocado packed in my lunch
the day before, the wooden heart cool and slick in my palm; or, how
a tree will grow out of my hand, its roots winding around my veins, its fruit,
a fist brought to my lips, its shade keeping the leather seats bearable
when I get in to drive away; you see, the sun is on a chain and when I press
the gas pedal, I’ll pull it on up like a stump attached to the back of a pickup
truck. I don’t have to go, you know. We could keep on standing here. Hell,
I’ve got some chalk in my pocket that I stole from a classroom. We could
trace the shadows of the parking meters as they fall in the angle
of the Tivoli Theater lights. Look!  There’s a penny on the ground.

Pick it up and see if it’s heads or tails, pick it up and see what year it is
or if it came from Denver or Philadelphia, if it’s a buffalo or wheat.
Pick it up and see if it feels like it’s worth more in your hand, if the heat
makes the copper wealthy. Give it to the man that plays steel guitar
for food by the aquarium, or to me and I’ll throw it in the fountain
that they’ve closed because the underwater lights are casting
off sparks. If you wade into the still water, you’ll feel your entire
body open to strange current, and by morning, if you’re still standing,
your shadow will have grown large enough for a life of its own.

EMILIA PHILLIPS is originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia where she is a MFA poetry student at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her poetry and prose have appeared or are forthcoming from Asheville Poetry Review, Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts, 42opus, Unsaid Magazine, Pedestal Magazine, Poetry Miscellany, and elsewhere. She was named Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts’s 2009 Discovery Poet and was the recipient of the fall 2008 Ken Smith Fiction Award from the Meacham Writers’ Workshop.