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Maya Jewell Zeller: a poem

On 5 April 1884

Tolstoy "got up late".

Maya, one hundred thirty-six years later,

did the same.

What it was was raining

that's what it was

(Hugo, you can go eat your verbs; semicolons too).

Maya had an egg for breakfast

as usual –

Tolstoy, "jaded, the same

sadness", remarked on the cleaners,

the people at home

– nothing was really usual,

no, it was mostly unusual, though I had forgotten how to make an em dash. I was going to make adjustments to the universe to make it easier – I thought about telling you, regarding the floor, how he wrote "we made it dirty". There was something familiar in that even if I have no cleaners. One of my children is here making sentences, says the grammar is distracting him from the rusty leaf outside – he says tools are in his way (he was born on Thoreau's birthday), yes, that jerk Tolstoy had cleaners        in his diary, "the same sadness", while I have only these two children like erratic pebbles and a house the size of a pandemic. Said the novelist, "I've let myself go... am less strict with myself", and I thought, Yes, meanwhile I hope your picnic has ants I hope you trip on a tree root. Don't be stupid – we both know what everyone knows, such as how many flowers will bloom on August 5, their exact shapes and medicinal properties

how the yellow forsythia shutters my yard in colour

how you belong to me

regardless –

Maya Jewell Zeller is the author of three collections, most recently the interdisciplinary collaboration (with visual artist Carrie DeBacker) Alchemy For Cells & Other Beasts (Entre Rios Books, 2017). Maya teaches writing for Central Washington University and serves as Poetry Editor for Scablands Books. Find her on Twitter @MayaJZeller.


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