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Grace Sleeman Apr 2019
Summers in Maine all have a similar rhythm and
tone — teenagers, fresh from high school’s early
morning classes, driving along miles of paved high-
way into the big city (66,000 people, barely a city
at all). We were desperate to feel independent, to
escape what we had deemed boring and mundane.
We would hurtle through the days, splayed like star-
fish on beaches with salt clumping our hair, sorting
through pocket change for enough quarters to buy a
one-scoop raspberry ice cream in a sugar cone. Not
enough sunscreen, but enough time in the sun to render
us pink and sore, patches of skin we’d poke at before
flinging ourselves back into the whirl. There was some-
thing endless in those evenings spent around fires,
slapping our legs to rid them of mosquitoes, licking
melted marshmallows from our fingertips, sandals
discarded and bare toes buried in fine silt mixed with
ash. Once we sat below the lighthouse and ate cherries,
burying the stones beneath the rosebushes around us,
and when our mouths were stained red and our hands
smelled like earth and roses, we drove on, ever looking
for a new horizon.
Grace Sleeman Feb 2019
behind my school there’s a milk processing facility.
they store their milk in giant towers
white, with ladders up the sides.

if i squint at their reflection in the whiteboard,
they almost transform into the parthenon —
no longer crumbling on an acropolis in athens but somehow,
inexplicably here,
resplendent and cold on a back road in portland.

the house of the gods sits shining behind me
reflected in the whiteboard.
Grace Sleeman Dec 2018
i am green

         deeeeeeep greeeeeeeen

                        quiet green.

                                     calm green.

      cold like the depths of a frosted pine forest

                                               soft, though
                                                                                                 like moss.
                                                                                                        springy.

                  i'm the green of cucumbers
                        
                        chill and refreshing

                                                                            i thrum like a rubber band
                                                                                      t w a n g e d

      i'm green like where you'd find a body

                                                            some gentle bones

                                                                                           silent waiting

i'm sour and serene

                                                                                               rich and reticent

so quiet and so quiet and so quiet and so quiet and so quiet and so qu
Grace Sleeman Oct 2018
one year i sat with my mom
beneath the reaching canopy of a tree that would fall
less than a month later, a storm that our tiny
corner of the world barely survived; the lilac
thicket in the backyard became a skeletal island
leafless trees shattered around the table where as a child i drank tea

that cast-iron lawn set, small enough for a child’s tea
party, juice poured into cups and served to my dad, to my mom
when the whole world is stormy sea, that lawn set is land,
i barely knew, out there, that soon the axe would fall
that the storm would blow the trees apart, that my parents’ careful lie, lack
of love, lack of energy, would come crashing down on us, hands still holding blue china teacups, the brush strokes delicate and tiny
Grace Sleeman Jun 2018
i crack open a pomegranate
it bleeds into my palms
deep red
webbing outwards

rivers, deltas, rivulets of
blood spilled
over thousands of years

eve cracked this pomegranate too
her hands stained with its heart
but i wonder
did she not paint adam?

was adam not there, ready to accept
his half of this bleeding fruit?
did she not drag her thumb
across his lips?

were his hands not, too, stained?
Grace Sleeman May 2018
i was born with a broken heart
melancholy child
painted in remorseful blue

taught not how to love but
to wait for the end
to expect it like the downswing of an axe

what goes up must come down

but here
with my hands in your hair in the half-light
midnight tears, eye to eye

that **** axe can keep going up forever
Grace Sleeman Apr 2018
how long do we have to be asleep
until we melt together
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