by Riley Mayes

the truth of every single thing is tangled and half
breathing. at least, that’s what I told myself in the thick
finish of the night when the rain ran down my mouth,
stumbling home with you on my arm and we were saying

we can’t stay awake like this.

they say it’s better to stay ahead of the pain
than try to chase it. I was getting good at the give
of gravity, emptying out rather than filling in.
now I’ve lost the line in a thin blue net
and searching requires meeting the barbs.

and about this fire, which was lit on purpose and
by accident, it was fucking heaven
out there in the dark in front of the church and my hands
on either side of the fence and every god-

damn sound was good enough to eat. I tried to, anyway,
with my lips and my tongue and the tips of my fingers
bringing it all to me, never fast enough. it was the
first feeling of being an animal my body could remember.

Riley Mayes is a full-time student and writer living in Portland, Maine. She is interested in explorations of nature and hyperlocal geography—both in her studies and in her writing. Her work has appeared in several publications, including BUST Magazine, Garfield Lake Review, Havik Las Positas Journal of the Arts, Bryant Literary Review, and Levitate Magazine.