Plastic Bag from Corner Store Laments the Self

By Aliyah Cotton


When they finally find me

                       all sprawled in the limbs of this tall oak


who can’t look me in the eyes anymore,

                       I’ll ask that simple question of myself,


where I might be taken, or take myself,

                       when the power lines quit humming their work songs


to the fading red & black & blue

                        graffiti lining the underpass


where I spent my youth grazing,

                       or when the moon turns blood-red & maudlin


& coughs me back up

                       on the mangled Chesapeake shores.


And when they ask why I’m there, I’ll shrug my shoulders.

                       And when they ask where I’m going I’ll quote the sky again.


I learned at birth to smile

                        where my teeth are not. And I learned after:


everything that opens is a mouth.

                         Every mouth will spit you right out.

Aliyah Cotton was born in Virginia in 1997. She earned her BA at the University of Virginia and is currently working to get her MFA in poetry writing at Boston University. Her work has appeared in Spires, *Q Anthology of Queer Culture, and elsewhere.