Leah Kindler

golden shovel at daybreak

after Evie Shockley

we never see each other in  daylight, so I
study your swamp blue irises as they soak
in the light of your phone. I lean my head up
against yours. your voice is froggy after all the
hours of refusing sleep, our conversations lush
until the sun climbs in the bed, your emerald & red
lights dim, & I need to leave. you watch my violet-
veined eyelids flutter in the mirror, growing indigo
like the sky at dusk. you know my face best as it blooms

awake. we begin to make plans in the morning & it sticks. I
prefer daytime us. spring coasts by & the weather conjures
days where you read giovanni’s room while I write rough
drafts about your laughter. the windows open to green
& overgrown rainforests. in the library, you try to
avoid work, write looseleaf love notes, rupture
my concentration to match yours. from
this sweet angle, we can’t see the seeds
of summer that’ll swell & burst so
violently we’re flung a furious
distance apart. all spring, they
wait as the dicentras bleed.

Portrait of Downtown Crossing on a Tuesday

I leave work with the last of the trash, walk among storefronts, subway entrances, theaters where
children and mothers link hands. There are abandoned squares of cardboard, brown bags of bread left beside sleeping bodies. Raindrops catch in my hair.

I was once afraid of the wasteland of Washington Street at night, but by November I hug the blocks that bring me home. I know I’ll see a man in a suit at the McDonalds door, an empty
wheelchair at the subway entrance, a trumpet player serenading Macy’s.

My mom tells me to be careful walking alone at night. Like me, she was taught to fear disorder,
unpredictability. I cross Summer Street, the police’s dominion. A sense of security grabs at my
arm for a moment, then jerks loose. The way the air around them shifts—I know too much to call it safety anymore.

In a year, I will be transferred to a new cafe. I’ll start my walk in Beacon Hill, weaving between
gift shops and fluffy dogs. The curbs are lined with garbage bags, but all other decay has been
weeded out. I only see cops in the checkout line, their shoulders relaxed. The sidewalks of
Charles Street cackle with crooked teeth as I trip down them—all the way home.

Keeping Score

Like all girls, I knew shame
as the pet that pleasure dragged behind it.
It chased me to my soccer game.
Caught me alone between the goalposts.
Interrogated my Friday night. Was it worth it? I thought
of the circles my pointer and middle drew,
how close I came to catching my breath.

Under the sun, I felt childish in my shin guards,
muddy cleats, shorts covering my leg
where it might have been desirable.
Here I was, on the wrong side
of the field, watching sleeker girls
fight from afar while I dealt with this animal.

It was not the shame of wanting.
It was the shame of knowing
no one would catch my wanting
and pass it back.

Leah Kindler (she/her) is a poet and essayist based in Boston by way of the Chicago suburbs. She is finishing a Creative Writing BFA at Emerson College. Her work has been published in Invisible City, Celestite Poetry, and elsewhere. Find her online @leahliterally.