Ear by Tawanda Mulalu

Van Gogh’s ear is lying now without Zyrtec in a field
abstracted here into this concerto for a single voice.

Forgive then this invocation again to paint my face,
but I feel necessary when my tongue is in your cochlea,

wherever it is imagined: certainly not in a memory of
the phone call when I last heard her say my name…

So turn stars into milkshakes! Your hands were unsteady:
genius or syphilis? Everything is feeling. Every dead brush-

stroke a reason to outlive yourself here with me in this
field and hear syllables gallop as bright as sunflowers,

not the quiet pink roses I gifted her. Everything is
feeling. When you frame me like this I am capable of

posing for a kind of humanizing that none can hard r
or bar or batter or break-up with. Everything is with you,

always with you Vincent, since no other ear can so co-
inhabit my lungs, nor can feel— with me, with me—

the devastation of our audience. A quiet phone. A memory
as bashful as wilted pink roses on a countertop. Nowadays,

I cook alone. My hands steady with garlic, cloved with
a warmth only its crushing can bear—


Tawanda Mulalu was born in Gaborone, Botswana. He is the author of the chapbook Nearness, forthcoming from The New Delta Review and is an inaugural member of the Brooklyn Poets Mentorship Program. He has also served as a Ledecky Fellow for Harvard Magazine and the first Diversity and Inclusion Chair of The Harvard Advocate. His poems are published or forthcoming in Lana Turner, The Denver Quarterly, The Massachusetts Review, Salt Hill Journal and elsewhere. He mains Ken in Street Fighter.