heat wave anthem
by Lilly Milman
“I think the Earth has moved closer to the Sun,
or maybe it’s the other way around.”
I like elevator conversation like this.
“That sounds like a fair observation to make”
about this recent heat wave that has us all
spreading apart and sticking to the floor like freshly cracked eggs.
It was 2018 and New York was burning,
while we all laid flat on our backs
across the aged hardwood,
hair pushed to the side and
away from the neck, palms face down
and eyes closed. We couldn’t stand in the heat.
It feels good to be connected in this way,
hungry for the sound of feet whooshing
past the door and kicking up a breeze that
just makes it through the cracks,
bonded by the thinning out.
It is something I have had to work at —
keeping my eyes shut —
and the only way I have
succeeded is by cheating. I am not ashamed
to admit to my tricks.
I open one eye at a time when it gets too quiet,
when I let the stranger — nuzzling and
hiccuping and rubbing his eyes — fall asleep
on my shoulder on the train,
when the bus didn’t come and we
were all left in the rain, when my
wallet was lost and then unceremoniously found.
Sometimes, I try to reimagine things
I once heard someone say, but in my own voice,
to keep myself from frying.
This is easiest with teachers, old friends, and audiobooks.
This is called a rose window, I hum.
You just have to look through it, and wait for the clouds to pass by.
LILLY MILMAN is a Russian-American from Long Island, and she is currently a senior Writing, Literature and Publishing student at Emerson College. She is an associate editor of The Deli Magazine and a contributor at EARMILK. Her poetry has been published in Dirty Paws Poetry Review, Ink&Nebula Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, and The Hungry Chimera.