I Do Not Exist

Age 12, and the ants were turning the front porch into a new galaxy. A magical, working order. Just look—there’s Adelin, who moved into this home my family moved out of. Sixth grade, we were in the same class and here I was, invited over. She, my own age, filling my brother’s bedroom with stacked oil paints and cardboard canvas. Her mother’s cockatoos shouted exotic noises down the hallways of my childhood—everywhere colorful birds flying past the kitchen window where many afternoons I sat with watercolors, while my kitten, a monster, chased herself and a plastic milk lid across the linoleum floor. The new family’s birds were allowed to fly and hop freely about the house. There they were on the piano, the same place where we kept our piano. And this girl, scooped a handful of ants from the step and then stuck out her tongue and ate them. They taste sweet, she said, like sugar. I’m still not sure I believe her. And when I look closer, my mother’s roses are blooming. Inside, the piano plays a simple melody over and over while a parrot sits on my sister’s shoulder. Through the window, a flash of white wing followed by cat. My mother wanted tall windows, there were so many of them. Sometimes, we would hear the sudden, sad thump against glass and I would go searching for the bird outside, the one that flew into a happy expectation of the world and its own, sudden reflection. 

LAURA STOTT is the author of two collections of poetry, Blue Nude Migration (Lynx House Press, 2020) and In the Museum of Coming and Going (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2014). Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in various publications, including Kettle Blue Review, Western Humanities Review, Barrow Street, Copper Nickel, Memorious, The Aurorean, and Sugar House Review. She holds an M.F.A. from Eastern Washington University’s Inland Northwest Center for Writers and teaches at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. 

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