'You read an article that says if you catch it' and "Air"

You read an article that says if you catch it, your heart can explode. First it stops pumping oxygen around your body and then it bursts open in your chest. Boom. I think about parts of the heart sticking to the ribs, imagine the coroner scraping the bones like they’re frenched lamb cutlets. Time is syrupy in isolation. There are no weekdays and weekends, just time passing. We decide to end something we started years ago. I pack an overnight bag while you open the back door of the station wagon for the Catahoula to jump in. It’s hot but we wind up the windows and turn on the air-conditioning. Slowly, you reverse the car out of the driveway.

Redbuds opening
in flowerboxes around town,
my heart palpitates.




Green ink on my fingers, his leg pressed against mine from hip to ankle. When I didn’t shift, I could feel the edges of his hesitation curl into a question mark. I read from his book, traced the curves of words like they were braille and spoke them back to him. His letters on my lips, were a charm; a Plathean bespoke moment to stir his big badness. The air was heavy. There were no constellations on his cheek. We shared poached eggs on toast and avocado and he said he’d forgotten what it was like to laugh—really laugh. I led him back to my hotel room, knowing that part of him would never leave.

Tape up the door jamb.
My bread and butter love will
asphyxiate us.



Cassandra Atherton

Cassandra Atherton is an award-winning prose poet and international expert on prose poetry. She co-authored Prose Poetry: An Introduction (Princeton University Press) and co-edited the Anthology of Australian Prose Poetry (Melbourne University Press) with Paul Hetherington. She is currently writing a book of haibun with Jonathan Penton. Cassandra recommends Arthur's Acres Animal Sanctuary.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, July 6, 2023 - 20:11