Tell Me How You Know What You Know

by gm

Zoe Whittall



You didn’t realize
the apology plant was plastic;
I watered it for two weeks before I noticed.

On Halloween you said,
let’s watch scary movies
about snakes, or zombies, or intimacy.


8-years-old, playing hide n’ seek:
while your friend counted to ten,
you just walked home.

West of Winnipeg, the rain
was within sight, so you drove
for forty-five minutes to catch it.


South of Big Sur, we are 39.
A swarm of secrets in good salt. Your two fears:
being smothered, being abandoned.

San Luis Obispo, an infinity pool:
you’re the teacher, the no-boundaries boss.
My fears: open spaces, genuine powerlessness.


Your sons don’t like surprises. The river rises,
the youngest grabs my hand. I’m the shoreline’s
soft shoulder, tolerating uncertainty.

We are suddenly the adults now? I tattoo
his tiny arm with a pink pony, feel my hips and
mouth sharpen, ready to fight off any danger.


39, without a baby, a female body becomes
indecipherable, to the waitress at Montana’s
our extended family, and now

even the other queers. When we walk
the tender red landscape in Arizona, I
stand at the altar for dead husbands

and children at the base of the mountain.
I count to ten. I think you are hiding,
but you rise behind the saguaro, alone.