Sam Moe

There are parties in the second layer of Hell, but I don’t go anymore

Hades doesn’t want anyone to know it’s her birthday. She loves
blush and salmon, ballet slippers and naps beneath dogwood
trees. She has a throne hiding in her house made of construction
paper and her middle name is Hickory. Late Thursday I head out
to ivy pastures where toads with hot pink hearts heal before summer,
the air smells vaguely of lava and coal. I remember shutters
whose surfaces were embossed with roses, French bread coated
in jam, I draw ashtrays from the garden pools, I stick a lid
of taffy beneath a stone but it’s likely dissolving, what with
the fire and all. If I were magic, this wouldn’t be happening.
I would be sweet-tempered with creamy-orange hair and
decaying flame heart. There would be punch and prayer and
parties, love tasting like bubblegum, sleepy days eating cooled
berry pies. It’s not a rage thing. I mistake your boxelders for oaks,
I say I hate the spruce. Forget the elm. If I could sing lullabies
like a fawn harp, I would. Know I’d twist myself into the surface
of the moon so you might have something to look at each
night, know I’d enter bearing sunsets in my arms, we could
be exhausted from hours spent late on the kitchen floor.
There are crepe paper clouds in your house. When I arrive,
everyone is gathered around the stove, commenting on how your
wallpaper smells like vanilla scones and Saturdays. I don’t
let myself dream the whole weekend, keep track of your moods
in a notebook, draw an image of your face in the margins. Do you
still count the nights you feel haunted, do you still save your memories
in jars? Maybe you’ll cast frosty spells for hours. Maybe you’re in love
despite the bitter curtains of time, between clock shatter, hand pierce,
pendulum erosion. It’s never I might love someone else even though
I’m a Libra, it’s always, I am unlovable, and winter is in my head
for a thousand days. It’s effort, however teal, numbing tiles onto
the bathroom floor. It’s how much I miss the Underworld, your guard
dogs, the messenger birds and the basalt rock coasters. Moss and lichens,
soil and starting points, I’ll uncoil the forests and sift through the oceans,
cast out my name, a dead sea star, to decay on your desk.

About the Author

Sam Moe (she / her) is the first-place winner of Invisible City’s Blurred Genres contest in 2022, and the 2021 recipient of an Author Fellowship from Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. Her chapbook, Grief Birds, is forthcoming from Bullshit Lit in April 2023. You can find her writing in The Hungry Ghost Project, Overheard Lit, Gone Lawn, The Shore, Yuzu Press, and many others.