Everywhere I Haven’t Been Anywhere by Laura McCullough

Repudiate felt good in my mouth, like someone else’s tongue      Stephen Dunn

Stephen says—though I’m sure someone else
did first—if a person hasn’t found out who they are

by forty, they’re doomed. I say fuck that. What is a person
but an illusive, allusive island the coordinates of which

change depending upon the decade, the tides, climate
upheaval, sinking this year into the depths just to rise

again the next in another part of the world. The world
doesn’t know who it is, and it’s old, should have its shit together,

and I don’t hear anyone just writing it off. Well, actually, I do
all the time, but think they’re fools, not for finding fault

or wanting to fix things, but for not having hope. Today,
I rolled down my car window in the parking lot of Lowe’s

and asked the guy next to me, Hey, how’s your soul?
Just fine, he said and paused, my conscience is clear,

so yeah, my soul’s good. I’d never thought about that,
I said, the connection between conscience and soul. 

He said, you’re welcome to the insight. I went inside
and bought some two dollar, ninety-nine cents succulents

from the coast of Africa and Madagascar. I planted them
in a shallow bowl because they don’t need much root room,

can grow against gravel, live without water; all they need
is light, and someone who cares enough to move their bowl

around now and again to catch the beam of the always
shifting sun. I’m told that eventually, unpredictably,  the split

rock succulent will open as if it has mouth
out of which a small strange flower
will emerge.



Laura McCullough’s books of poetry include Rigger Death & Hoist Another, Black Lawrence Press, June, 013, Panic, winner of a 2009 Kinereth Gensler Award, published by Alice James Books, Speech Acts, from Black Lawrence Press, What Men Want and The Dancing Bear. She is editor of two forthcoming anthologies, The Room & the World: on Stephen Dunn (U of Syracuse) and A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race (Georgia U Press). She is the editor of Mead: the Magazine of Literature and Libations, and an editor at large for TransPortal Magazine.