love poem melting + Other Poems

by Stella Binion

Illustration by Leslie Benavides

published March 13, 2020


love poem melting


in the swell of        the moving shifting bits of        I can’t hear anything 

but the wind running against my neck — moan gargle whisper enough without trembling

dig into the cement sidewalk of this or that or open or closed or curbed   curling kicking

    Oh but when I come,

I will begin & end in a center    nowhere    I am          an outskirt        here    in this dream-imagining     we are    everywhere    I am    never by myself        in a tornado  remembering and returning   settling & you, the ground tugs closer beneath feet believing mistrusting, maybe, our mass body boulder

so that time runs slowly across back shoulders hunched hard around the yielding warm of us   gooey not yet ready I think of skin softening in the sunshine again & how everything jogs into   stillness just in time


& even if 

I’m saying something useful 

I’m not saying anything with a locked jaw cemented with

know until I

    —soothed hands & lick across back’s blade & a now belonging in the same place—         know we will not fleet when buried somewhere  

                     pulsing   molten    

                                a want for soupiness


                                a choice so clear


 a dream of August


I remember how August got caught / hot & salt-soaked

in the back of my throat / again

I guzzle when I want to gulp the sun

our most powerful body hidden

behind a smudged sky / morning until dusk recently / still


maybe the cement keeps the earth so cold here / how would we know?

how come skin stays blue in a bath tub steaming / soaked

soaping / shea-rubbed / still

there must not be oxygen on my surfaces again

my brown / loud-mouthed / father-born / all of a sudden hidden

each day covered / woken / without sun


each morning, sitting in the front room, I have woken up & painted in the sun

on a palette I mix shades of daylight / the ones that I know 

the ones hidden

behind bank buildings / man-made metal circuses / circuits florescent-soaked

it’s a cloudy day here / again

shaded grey / land-burdened / standing still


minutes pass / still

lethargic without sun

I become unmoving / again

wombed / I remember the red in the skin that I know

hot / soaked

in the solar / lodged between the tissue we keep / hidden


my mother says that our mother is hidden

that we’ve made her still / 

recently I’ve been dreaming of leaving my home / a suitcase soaked

in all the down pour from here & a ticket west / I set out for sun

move away from what I know

I dream of August / red / sticky / again


I’ve only known waiting / a mourning cold / until summer returns again

valleys / sanded / in the southwest / or nearby / hidden

I’ve only ever believed what I know 

a city / myself in movement / a day on a subway / so much hung above my head / no place to be still

no one asks / where is the sun?

I sit next to a window unopened / lying in a bath tub / soaping / relearning warm / soaked 


again / I am blue-soaked

I know to / dry / bare my shoulders / prepare for sun

I leave the front door unlocked / the key on the stoop unhidden / & even though I don’t     

                        look back / I throw one last prayer / into the sky / still


land-kept / water-locked 


new skin / February-kept

hard-shelled over / tight 

zygomatic / the swollen fruits of my face

Savannah / shallow

with water low / pulls her body in as a buoy


I’ve dreamt of Lake Michigan monsters in moats around my bed / a shoe lace pull 

like puppet / at lungs and necks 


we all sink further toward spring water floor / littered

Papa places his hands in his pocket / a rain hat / a mask

tells stories of salt-water storms / five night clubs in Greenwich village 

a cigarette break in the back alleyway / drag / says lungs could still exhale the smoke then 


at the water’s edge I see no break in earth and sky / the in between / my home

this land left to what devices / but the ones darting in airfields 

above ground near souls / in gas masses 

a stratosphere / over so many material things

neon signs / plastic grocery bags / sidewalk trash next to drawn chalk

moving beside me as though within all of us 

oil detonates beneath a current / of which 

our earth-body / my home

did not want


all this sorrow man-made from beauty / a vein poisonous 

politicized / machined

not sure if I’m ready to go but I may / we may 

in a December-summer / February-skin peeling 


I’m soon to be years old / water’s surface melted

Savannah-sister and I / a body spilling / a safety hazard in an oiled current 

a plastic buoy / no boats permitted in years

a bottle / a shoelace

a lung / a neck


rescue recollected


Wife      Husband     balcony     unrailed    Daughter    age two         

fiddles a colored-bright plastic ring     looped around fingers         spinning circles                .  this balcony above Tagus River         pours to the Atlantic     undisturbed        serene          

the woman      fair-featured slight       in brassiere and underwear         sighing short stories to herself        the man      dark-skinned older      sits shirtless          reading a newspaper     


Daughter     restless in still          the woman cradles her         walks to the apartment door    grasps knob         turns         turns again    begins         shaking pushing    Husband stands     joins her  attempt        panic ripples         the sunny breeze         between two parents         a building ledge     their unsettled infant


Inside        Little Boy     five    sits    shaggy      matured      features mirror baby sister’s     television reruns     Rugrats Scooby-Doo         knocking pounds the balcony door         Father’s voice          Luca. Lucas!             Listening        a commercial jingle floats at his back         he wonders if he is in trouble         Mother has her serious voice         listen close     follow closely        pressing his ear to the small hole of light        his sister     wailing     they keep yelling         Key. Key.        where?        His mother     breaths out a path       down the stairs     the hall    toward the kitchen           the stool    please be careful on the stool        look         there is a bowl with keys     is there a bowl?        safety pins and rubber bands     like at Montessori          Get the keys.


    Held-breath silence     ears pressed against     keyhole      the woman rocks Daughter    paces         balcony edge        cautious     teetering       Chink     metal ring     looped around finger        door pushes forward         relief             rushes remnants of fear         Little Boy     steady in stature    unconcerned