The Magenta Stoplight: A Poem


A strand of cotton candy cloud
lingers on the sunset
like caramel on ice cream
or an ex-lover’s kiss on my cheek.
I’m in your car, on the way back from the party,
thinking I’ve done everything wrong;
the streetlamps are carpet-bombing us with yellow light
and dizzying uniformity.
When we come to the magenta stoplight,
which buzzes like one of the mosquitoes it’s ensnared,
I notice that the end-of-day wink is casting dim lavender
on the city’s bricks.
Midnight blue is encroaching from the East,
and the black spray-painted letters on the overpass
are as incoherent as radio static.
You turn to me, your hair orange and pink lit from behind—
your face grey.
You pull your hand from the steering wheel and reach it
towards my knuckles—which have been tight this whole time
like the braces I had removed in high school or an embrace
that you don’t realize until later will be your last—
and you’re soft with me, your skin like a butterfly
imploring a flower for permission to land.
For a moment, I want to give in—
stretch my petals out to you, offer you
my every inner sweetness—
but a glint of glassy green strikes your eye.
The whole world, it seems, is a candy box
and I can’t trust any of it.


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