in the grocery store
a woman on her phone says: well
they have one pie crust but it’s cracked
and I know we have enough sugar but I’m not sure
how much flour we have left so could you check
and we all hold our breath in the silence
not wanting to walk away from such ordinary
unsolved mystery or go anywhere near the man
further down who looks so unhappy over bread
I built butterfly bushes in the backyard
and captured the flying creatures, when they came,
sometimes with nets, sometimes by hand
plucking them from a flower
after approaching on quiet, patient toes.
I released them into the tiny mesh cage
and rubbed my fingers together
to dislodge swallowtail or monarch dust.
I filled the home with fresh flowers
and at times pushed in a gleaming sugar cube
to make their tongues roll out and jab
like foils, a frenzied fight for life
in controlled circumstances. When they died,
I gathered a new batch and began again
to cultivate a paradise they’d want, a place
they’d thrive, always. I became pregnant.
in your note you put many
commas, and commas where commas
weren’t even needed, so I know
you were thoughtful and worried.
I wish I had the superpower
of reading the minds of punctuation;
maybe each little curve of flip-
flop would tell me a story,
of placement, of being locked down,
in you. Instead we’ve stumbled
past the moments when you had
the courage again, and again, and again.
Lauren Bender lives in Burlington, VT. Her work has appeared in IDK Magazine, The Collapsar, Gyroscope Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Yes Poetry, and others. You can find her on twitter @benderpoet.