One Poem by Jo Varnish

Dry Heat

she is the mountains,
grounded, owning the red earth –
silver rings bearing
colossal turquoise stones
closer, she smells like clementines
yes, I want to be
up close like this

she says, where’s home?
and I think: I moved too many
times, I grieved too many
deaths to have
a home …
you’re a tumbleweed,
she says to my silence
I’m heading for California,
I say, and I decide it’s true

and later –
mojitos and live music,
pink sunset and dancing
we giggle and she touches
my face –
don’t stop, I want to say
I’m damaged, she says
me too,
I’m drunk, she says

we’re outside, in the dark,
warm dry desert air
broken glass underfoot –
tiny colored lights strung up
on a weathered wooden fence,
distant bar chatter, guitar and trains

you passed right through me,
she says as she leaves
I will ache for her, I think,
in California
or Oregon, maybe.


Having moved from her native England aged 24, Jo now lives in Maplewood, NJ. Her short stories have recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, The Bangalore Review and Manqué Magazine. Currently she is studying for her MFA and can be found on twitter as @jovarnish1.

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