Trompe L'oeil. | Annual Update. | Hypothetical. (3 Poems) by Aaliyah Anderson (she/her)

Trompe L'oeil.
Step outside to sneeze into
            cloth, return with red
pores. I don’t want to try a
meatball rolled from an extinct
animal. I tell
            myself I rarely
snack, but my forearms swell, and I’ve
            been leaving
                        pieces of myself
                        everywhere I go—
            my feet were nothing but frayed
and ready for Appalachian runoff.
            My spit has cooled since
last Wednesday. We gain space,
            cardiovascular concept left
                        in blocked intersections,
                        in geese stuck at the Cracker Barrel parking lot.
            I rarely eat, but oyster soup
boils on a sparked pit. I don't know
when you chopped thawed cabbage, how we
                        found sterilized surface
to ground flavor
            out of pepper, but your knuckle’s skin
is loose and translucent
            my lips. For tolerance’s sake, I tried
clustered granola a week ago, and
            my throat still scratches like you do—
            deep enough that I bloat before
we reach a mountain’s top. Overnight, all our utensils
                        get tattooed on
our asses; the wolves are romantic, too,
use artifacts as tools, as post signs
            to differentiate between up
and down. They ask you, guts or carbohydrates?
I answer, yes please, thank
                        you, good creatures!

Annual Update.
Some type of tradition: imploded icing, no point in
decoration when plain clay settles as wide as you
or I. Have you rolled erupted streamers before / another
reply for full reconciliation. Butter knife lightens a
layer, mellowed fondant curves, no glaze for a rough
finish, I, too, a thoughtful mass—to live and not rot
was the initial goal. The whistle of dust, blushed horn
pierces brick and chipped vinyls…I “heard” you “heard”
from “heard” and slept with “heard”.
My favorite plot
point is All Is Lost; big boy and big girl now—veneers
thrown at upcoming dentist appointment; housing crisis
projected (your blue eyes wrestle with modern ties and
penciled skirts, pray with an active hand). Meanwhile, I
let the bear go and his relocation does him well. They
recently found him moaning at a landslide, mauling
polyethylene terephthalate, piling cigarette buds, tapping
his feet, searching for a type of slow veganism. I promise
to visit him soon—I’ll likely cave and bring the balloons.

I adhere: a girl & her dignity are different enough for
flossed underbites. Comment ça va? Ça va. Joe DiMaggio
swaps home runs for growing-things, visits Norma thrice
now & thrice later. He’s cities away picking his nose, yet I
wince at a snagged ankle, stiletto ajar. Again, I am winged,
destination to adjust for frozen depth; Lake Eerie heaps
aluminum foil, speaks in slurred gasps as if always remembering.
These fatted green beans turn to a table's edge, forgotten
broil’s process. Solitude remembers the revolving door
predicament, & I begin prayer with a spoonful of gravy down
my throat. My teeth find metal. Norma’s straps come undone
like the harsh pluck of a violin. Norma goes to a jazz club, closes
her hand around a sweating man. When he flinches to play, I close
the bathroom stall & discover alleyways are her size. I reapply
powder, press to my temples. Night is a thick noise & needy
around shuttering cool light, black cars skirting curbs. Red lipstick
auctions for millions as my chin drenches a puddle. Norma
scares herself with her nakedness, a bedazzled nightmare woke to
porridge kissing a pan’s middle—exigence sauntering like her
hangnail, that abandoned servitude, or the unfolded silk napkin. &
if I reheated everything I’d eaten around? What would we do then?

Aaliyah Anderson (she/her) is a senior majoring in Literary Arts at her high school in Petersburg, VA. Her work is forthcoming or appears in Beaver Mag, BarBar, coalitionworks, and elsewhere. Aaliyah is a General Editor at Renaissance Review. She's obsessed with burnt cheese and intersectional storytelling.