Two Poems by Rhiannon McGavin


Dream Diary #9

Wind hums into the wrinkles of my map,
crumpled until the corners of Paris
I remember best can touch: Notre Dame
rolls above Place des Vosges and every gate
holds June bouquets. Rosebush road now runs past
the memorials, past secondhand books,
past abalone buildings whose shutters
blink sly as cats, it stretches exactly
where we swung our feet over that silk scarf
of a river, the days I cupped your grin’s
hot ember. You sail another last kiss
off the neon street below as lindens
burst through the balcony and in my bed
here, I brush yellow petals from my eyes.


Watching you talk on the phone, I consider the empty space around atoms–

how the particles that seed all matter are mostly void. Each nucleus is a maypole
for its electrons to circle, & their negative charges repel other electrons that spin
in other fields so the ribbon paths never kiss, only overlap, which means nothing
really touches– rain & dirt, apron strings, the phone nestled between your neck

& shoulder as you look for the pasta strainer. You wave one hand like a child
playing conductor, & this flail proves you’re not lying when your mother asks
about your day from upstate. When I was a crush, I’d watch you step away
downstairs to run this vaudeville routine, but you take the calls next to me now.

Your family pops through the window, stirs a pot, adds more salt. I am enough
of you to warrant this flavor of intimacy, these homeward sounds, for my own
mother to fret about how skinny you are. To make my birthday cake from scratch,
you wouldn’t just plant strawberries: you’d create another universe. I wanted you

warm and close as fresh laundry and here we are, Tuesday.
Of course you love me, you’re wearing one of my socks.


About the Author

Rhiannon McGavin’s work has appeared in The Believer, The Los Angeles Times, and more. Her books Branches and Grocery List Poems are both available from Not A Cult. As a 2023 Mitchell Scholar, she will study literature at Trinity College.

Notes on the Poems

“#9” is from the sonnet crown in Grocery List Poems. “Watching you talk on the phone, I consider the empty space around atoms–” is from McGavin’s forthcoming Computer Room.


The post image is a detail from the 1615 Merian map of Paris.

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