national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014

I Love You Skinny Leaf

Parke Haskell  • 
Bennington College

You tried to get me wet for thirty
months—I was too busy
not eating to notice. Did you know—
this page was once a humming tree?


A scraggy tree is full of bugs.
It fills up with flames and begins to buzz.
Did you know the buzzing is the sound of the juicy wet
bugs dying? They die easy, but there are always


more. O sweet something sing. Something that makes me
different is that I have never been full.
You tell your friends after that my clit is like a cracked
seed in some Sahara. They laugh and I


agree this is amusing because a fun fact
about me is that I only drink water. I get so thirsty
that eventually, I go to the hospital, where they wrap me
up in paper like an oily anchovy.


We are mashed between the sheets.
Your finger flicks inside me
like a moth smacking itself to death
against a sconce and once I pressed


a leaf inside the center of my
Norton Anthology—it turned thin
and veiny and around it all the words
blurred. I love you


skinny leaf I killed to keep
from humming—O sweet something sing—
Your hands are the hands
of a delinquent boy scout—


Strike the flint—strike, sweet
misery—strike at the center of me—fill up
the empty. I know you want to hear the music.
I know you want to see a cracked seed burn.