Photo by Kseniia Ilinykh / Unsplash

The Red Pine Tapes

Poetry Jan 10, 2024

by Billy Greene

Folded hands are mistaken for held ones on the table. I’m looking out the window now, despite my God telling me to quit it. The recitation of doctor’s orders reels and I turn from the camera willingly. I have entirely taken too many walks in the past ninety-six hours. The ornate vase that teeters where my stomach hangs pools over with water. I am shaken, not shattered, by the potters’ hands a sunny sky has.

The light essentializes the vulnerability offered to the world: a scraped knee on a rock, barefoot blisters on the trail. Now you can see the bruises, because I decide to wear a tank top and shorts and sandals. Suppose I hate winter, then—the woman in me brutally subjugated to the crewnecks of nonexistent lovers. My stubble unkempt; my pelvis in my pockets; my heart a microwave with the fork of eye contact. My—, my—, my—, one hell of an annoying bird.

I’m alright with the unbearable fact that my feminine is pained and pined. On the trees in Lake Country, on the observation tower at Lapham Peak, in the silence of LaGrange, initials of lovers warp the wood. Atop Baldy, two gulls soar the dunes. After some indie band's concert in Madison, I wedge between acts of proximity to summit my way to the car. Turn on the radio: Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You." The laughter at this sick, karmic joke keeps me occupied for awhile.

In my childhood bedroom, the third drawer down, there is a pair of 3D glasses: one lens blue, one magenta-red. There is some gender to that. Outside of the movies, life duplicates and dizzies—even without the shades. When friends are in love, I don them and assume viewership. I try to turn on the subtitles as they mutter their lover's sweet little everythings: Oh, he can play Jenga well, they made me watch this strange New Wave film, she woodworked a platter for our four-and-a-half-month anniversary. I smile and mmm. My refusal to be cynical is out of a hope that someday, too, I can so casually shrug the fact someone will be waiting for me at home with a board game, a charcuterie board, and a bootleg copy of Cléo de 5 à 7.

About a week ago, I wrote a poem about Montana despite never going. Massive views and skies excite me because absolutes do in fact exist, however unlikely they may crop out of a trans imaginary. Some things just are—and I shiver at that nebulous affirmation. Weyes Blood, too, sings: "I know my place / it's a beautiful thing." The Northern Lights beat with little warning. Even the cocktail dress off eBay—without measurements or an account verification—fits perfectly.

A shadow of a flag against a storefront kind of resembles a mouth. Some plant sits in its display, entirely too tropical for Wisconsin. Inside here, in my window seat, in my cocoon of a flannel, I let my voice be heard with the company of a coffee mug. I kiss the rim: You are my friend.

Photo by Michael Aleo / Unsplash

Billy Greene is a poet and musician. They currently pursue English and gender studies at Lawrence University. Aside from the words and noise, they enjoy hiking, running, and brooding.