Melissa Helton – “Blip”


– after “Today” by Hao Wang

Today once more,
the sun glared off the winter-salted
road and my eyes narrowed
to mostly-blind slits
as I commuted east.

I will try
not to make that
a metaphor
for being American
or being white in America
or being a straight-passing
queer in America.

I will leave
my poetry notebook on
the bedside table, beside the crusty
teacup whose bag
has dried and fused
to the bottom
until this season is over.

Today once more,
the water cycle rolls
through its steps
with mathematical predictability.

I will tuck
the glaring morning sun
into my back pocket
beside my cracked-screen phone
and think about that giant
Tesla coil at the kids science
museum in Tennessee and how it
made the whole room
smell like ozone.

I will carry
all that the world and TikTok
has to offer right next
to my ass all day
and think about thwarted
science, about conquests,
about winter and salt,
about water cycles and ozone.

Today once more,
we’ll pretend this was exactly
what we planned to happen,
like when we planted those
seeds from the watermelon
packet and somehow,
pumpkins grew. It wasn’t
until the green began to dust
orange that we figured it out,
ridiculously far into the season.

I will watch
the world flare-out
with the sun glare in my
middle-aged eyes again
as I commute west on the way home,
and try not to swerve.

I will put
a cheap $8 ticking
Walmart watch on my wrist
and wait for the brown-suited
UPS guy to deliver
me magic from the Amazon devil.

I will watch
from my kitchen window
how February thaws into a muddy
smear on the mountainside.

But they can’t
convince me spring will
be early this year, despite
what that groundhog said.
Spring is always late–
you can tell by how grand
and fashionable Her entrance.

Today once more
I’ll live my quick life in these
mountains where some rocks are so much
older than the Atlantic ocean,
older than dinosaurs,
older than land animals themselves.

I will hold
this tiny space of my day
in my flashing hands.

Melissa Helton is Literary Arts Director at Hindman Settlement School in Eastern Kentucky. Her work has appeared in Shenandoah, Still: The Journal, Norwegian Writers Climate Campaign, Anthology of Appalachian Writers, and more. Her chapbooks include Inertia: A Study (2016) and Hewn (2021). Originally from Toledo, Ohio, she has called Eastern Kentucky home since 2010.

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