Abigail Selby

Mills College, Oakland, CA, USA



I am no soft thing,

no thing to be adored—

Where do my thoughts go

When they leave me, my Love?

Does my stomach twist and 

rhyme like boughs

off that tree where we picked persimmons

crisp, bloody, and smooth.

Should we no longer then, 

sleep together, past summer afternoons?

Lightless, she tells me

– no more.

Tells me no more stories,

nor lullabies. 

Reprimanded—I should not

– forget you.

Water to trickle down, 

“How long should we wait now?”

Can we make it past what we do not know;

like suitcases hidden behind walls,

– if I linger further,

– left inside that tender flesh

– of you and I. 

I should make a home, pack my bags,

and never return. Not once even look back.

Things Never Change

I wait for forgiveness that never comes

Wisteria in my pocket.

I hold out for one, just one, more day,

heed my backpack ready at a moment’s notice.

In it, my bag is suited with things I’ve witnessed die,

– like fire lilies, camellias, and more.

All these things with them, I seem pitiful, too. Constantly moving,

evolving, attempting to live—If not, attempting to flee. 

– Plant myself anew.

Breath in my lungs, strung out to the sky.

– I waited for love 

– that will never come.

So much time wasted not healing, but holding on: integrating. 

– My mother, tasting of cinnamon bears.

Honesty in the Sieve

How people look into one another’s eyes, 

only to look away in haste. View only the part of self we loathe;

– how tragic it is that I force myself to peel away.

You are not what I wanted, their eyes say. 

You belong somewhere else, they lie—or lie with the intent of biting truth.

Either way, I’m left with bite-marks and stains, flushing it out with cheap vodka

as if it’s all I ever was made out to be. 

You should go, we agree. 

What a great and awful chasm; to not be what someone wanted.

Not be enough to ransom myself to you, even if I could afford to. 

To not even fit inside this suitcase I’ve fashioned into a home.

– It’s not like that, you say.

– But it is, though, isn’t it?

Slipping through the cracks, each position of myself 

Taking leave, once again.

Honeycomb Blossom, Bite

Does the larvae nestle away, swept in dreams

of becoming more? In its shell it hides—life spent in waiting

When it arrives, it springs and breathes—the first fresh cry!

And so, it dies.

Back to the grave does its cries sink, down under that canvas it had once dreamt of

Could this have been worth it? -Worth all the life

whittled away in passing, yearning for something more?

Is it wrong to have waited, or to have been too haste?

Was the last breath and cry spent in vain—if only it’s first, 

 and it’s only? Can we not attempt to live 

more of this simple journey in-between time, in the folds

of those slivers of what is and what may come. 

To you, I seldom wait within

– but cry out nonetheless.

Does the larvae spend its life

wishing to blossom—or does it weep in regret once it has,

for the dream of the life it wasted in vain?

The Shell that Shrinks, Home Sweet Home

There is a price to pay

When you wind me open, Loosen me up and yet,

– Only to snap shut.

Your dismissal is deafening -My funds are the lowest they’ve been

I can’t keep going this way; wound so tight again. I fear this time

– I may stay like this, curled in

– the way a snail retracts into itself.