Laura Madeline Wiseman and Genevieve N. Williams

Turning me into a Bear

Horizontal on the wide bed, pinned under stars, mid-forest of the city, I said I love you, two moons since we shared a round of cheese, hot mugs of spiced tea, the humid mid-summer air. Smudged in dark hues, your eyes fluttered and crinkled. You whispered words I heard and couldn’t hear. Head to head, you sighed onto my eyelids and whispered, You’re confused. Am I? Would that be so bad? I am confused by the trees, the paths in the city, what blooms when and where. Every day, the sky still blue, the clouds big and building, the fields that surround these lanes of traffic and city sprawl wide and open with lovely. I’m confused by social media, sometimes friendly, sometimes girl-on-girl drama, underlaid by ads that tell me what I want, where I’ve searched, what I’ve already purchased. I confuse love with want and want with your danger, your dark tee shirts and loose jeans, your pale wrists and lean thighs scarred by cuttings. Was I confused by your lips in my hair, your fingers on the edge of my jeans, your cheek as it grazed my own? I wasn’t confused. I wanted. If I asked you sometimes to tie me to the tall posts that border the bed, would you know to unfurl bright ribbons from my pockets? To loop a length of green velvet around each wrist—not to injure but to bind, not to pain but to awaken? As you near my now-quiet still-open mouth, I breathe out the wind that had blown in from the nearest ocean three thousand miles away. If I asked you sometimes to write letters, to fold them over and tucked inside other folds, to seal your notes with your eyes only and I love you and our initials daggered by hearts, pinched by arrows, all those plus signs like paper was a tree we’d carved into, would you deny my reverie, my need to remember a time before I became what I’ve become? Would you recount how we overslept, forgot to slip through the deck door, and your sister discovered me naked, legs splayed, with lean, athletic you, your cheek on my breast and your body twisted around mine like vine.

Laura Madeline Wiseman’s recent books are An Apparently Impossible Adventure (BlazeVOX [books])  and Leaves of Absence (Red Dashboard). She is also the author of Drink (BlazeVOX [books]), winner of the 2016 Independent Publisher Bronze Book Award and Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles) with artist Sally Brown Deskins, an Honor Book for the 2015 Nebraska Book Award. Her essay on long distance cycling "Seven Cities of Good" is an honorable mention for the Pacific Literary Review's 2015 Creative Nonfiction Award. She teaches at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Genevieve N. Williams is a poet living and working in Omaha, Nebraska. Work has appeared in Plainsongs, Creative Nonfiction, burntdistrict, and elsewhere. She facilitates Omaha Writers Group, a weekly writing workshop open to the public, and is a teaching artist for Nebraska Writers Collective.