Precarious Weather

Rust Rorschach, Timothy Embertson

The day I call the day my hair fell out, no hair

actually fell out. Several bouquets simply gave


with a small tug, and slipped my mind 

like thoughts. This wasn’t picking – the mud


let go the roots, and every hair coming out said “oh,

yes! This is what I’ve been waiting for!”


It left me like a map: desert states and green.

My cancer: America mowing the front yard,


and then sucking it dry till it’s hard,

and there is nothing there but rock,


and nothing like the sea, except maybe

my eyes that one time you described them,


sat by the river, yawning on the yellow lawn

which clung to your ankles harder than I did


to your neck that night to pull you down,

my hair in your mouth like hay, and tangled


in tears not letting go. But you left and leave,

constantly in my mind as I navigate this map


of dying. And if I didn’t let you go in the grass,

I sure as hell won’t let you go in this desert,


where I can’t even drink the water in my eyes

because the salt will drive me mad.


I am a map differently than a man is an island, and

I will torture myself with this precarious weather,


until this cancer’s gone as definitely

as you decided to leave.

About the Author

Madeline Pulman-Jones · University of Cambridge

Madeleine Pulman-Jones is a poet, writer, and translator. Her poems have appeared in The Mays Anthology of New Oxford and Cambridge Writing and The Adroit Journal, among other publications. She was selected by Jericho Brown as a finalist for The 2020 Adroit Prize for Poetry, and currently studies Russian and Spanish at the University of Cambridge.

About the Artist

Timothy Embertson · Hope College

Timothy Embertson grew up in Lake City Michigan, and he is a dual major in Art and Psychology with a minor in Theatre at Hope College. “Rust Rorschach” first appeared in Opus

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