It Was the Year Without

It was the mouthlark, I mean it was morning, the light
sent like a text to our dreams. It was the year without
romance. The skinnyjeaned boy never left his room. His
chuck taylors stayed impossiblely clean. The neighbor’s
threadbare dog, stitched its way across town, until everyone
knew when to look out the windows expectantly. The only
clock was frogsong. It was the year we planted gardens
and let our lawns go. No one went to work. People drank
the golden hour like smooth bourbon without worrying
if it was watered down. The dullhum of insects sat like
an empty glass. Taxes were paid in bundles of red twigs
from the willows along the lake that was really a pond.
The economy was the division of spring bulbs and their
eventual return. We learned to love the dying light
of our screens, like it was the end of the world. Each day
we waited for the dog to come limping past with the sun
in its mouth. When he came, like a watchman at daybreak,
we stepped from our houses and into our wings. We sang.

Jory Mickelson is a queer, nonbinary writer whose first book, WILDERNESS//KINGDOM, is the inaugural winner of the Evergreen Award Tour from Floating Bridge Press and winner of the 2020 High Plains Book Award in Poetry. Their publications include Court Green, Painted Bride Quarterly, Jubilat, Sixth Finch, and The Rumpus. They are the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and were awarded fellowships from the Lambda Literary Foundation, Winter Tangerine, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. Currently, Mickelson is a 2022 Jack Straw Writing Fellow.