Spring 2024

Magnolia at henrietta

By Leia K. Bradley

Walking barefoot in the rain, asphalt bulging hard against soles,
I slick the city with stilettos in hand, one heel broken clean in half, but
I’m still the girl who climbed up the magnolia tree
and wasn’t found for five hours. Just reading.
I remember running
fast through the backwoods, running away from rigid rancor I
think I’m too good at leaving when things hit their high—
downfall’s an inevitable Hello Kitty Band-aid to the knees.
Tonight in the Village I want to dip my toe into the big dipper, but it’s too bright
to boil anything worth a ladle—
big city kitchens don’t know shit about bacon grease—
but I’m still happy I gave up buttered biscuits for bars
of the lezzian variety.

There is a fickle freedom in being the hellborn of the family.
I am the disgust of taffeta and crucifix, the gaping gnaw
of women shall not lie, women shall not lie with women, I
am sloth and lust, overindulgent in my choiceless sins.
A divorcée preening in pointed-toe pumps, I am even taller, more rousing. God has a rule
about butches being shorter than femmes, anyway, and I relish the stoop to smooch.
Everyone’s the same height when you’re horizontal, anyway, the bouncer winks.

Across the felt lust of the pool table, a greaser grin
flicks deep, easy, like a switchblade or like butter
in a warm skillet. If God is a butch palming a cue, I would fall
to my knees in worship faster
than you can say who’s art is in heaven.
Switchblade says she likes my accent and all the sweet lilt and curve of me.
There are some advantages, I s’pose, to being from where I’m from, and her laugh
is city-slick sly enough to be exactly where I’m going.
Northeast’s got me necromancing old selves that never got to erupt:
I am the eaten honeysuckle
crawling up the concrete cracks of the underpass, able to be more femme
in this disgusting glimmer of a city than I ever could back home in the backwoods, more me
with every high-heeled perch on the pool table
and every bourbon flavored kiss. And I am grinnin’ like a possum, because I am not
going home alone.

Leia K. Bradley (they/she) is a Georgia-born, Brooklyn-based lesbian writer, performance artist, and MFA Poetry candidate at Columbia University, where she teaches Writing in Gender & Sexuality. She has work out now or forthcoming in POETRY, Variant, Aurore, Ghost City, trampset, Peach Fuzz, Full House Literary, West Trade Review, and more. She was nominated by Miniskirt Magazine for a Pushcart Prize for her lesbian werewolf short story “Moon Pie,” and is the 2023 Featured Author of Anodyne Magazine. After climbing out from the coffin of her first divorce, she is accepting love letters through her twitter @LeiaKBradley or instagram @MadameMort.

Spring 2024