the goats jumped on your back | by Danielle Eleanor

“If any doubt there was in the human mind the action of the deer and the dogs would have been enough to dispel it, for the dumb creatures, as is well known, are far better judges both of identity and character than we are.” – Orlando, 126

The first Christmas I cannot go home, I carve home in a frozen city
on a hand-me-down couch, dipping into the broken down center,
your body a parenthesis around mine.
The tears come for weeks;
I think maybe I will drown us both. Or maybe
I will fill the living room up and the couch will rise
with us still curled up on it, maybe we will push through the skylight
float away, down South Street, over the side of the Ben Franklin,
into the Delaware. Maybe you should leave me.
I am not the first queer girl to write this poem.

On December 26, I wake up far away, in a bed you borrowed for us
not yet knowing that there is a plum growing inside of Colleen’s belly
or that Michael chugged a Guiness when our parents weren’t looking but
I wake up reaching across the bed for you. Soon
I will hear about the memories I wasn’t part of, my sister’s voice
carrying hundreds of miles. I watch through the kitchen window as you,
in the freezing cold, open your arms to goats you fed and birthed and
missed and they know you—
of course they do. Who wouldn’t remember you.
And I think really, you ought to come inside because it’s too cold, but once
the deer and dogs recognized Orlando and we knew she was trusted
and home.



Danielle Eleanor (she/her) lives in Philadelphia, where she works in academic publishing, goes for a lot of weirdly long walks, and writes, usually on her roof. You can read more of her work in Vagabond City Lit, The Nervous Breakdown, the Rutgers Writers House website, and more. Find her on Twitter @dea17_

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