Lantern Review | Issue 9.2

Syd Westley

Elegy Attempts from the Oregon Border

I pick up my pen and put it back down again who died and what am I trying to do
I have killed many plants I am notorious for overwatering
I am learning new words every day so I can say things that some people have already known
If my grandmother’s ashes are in an urn in Piedmont can I find my way back and how so
Yesterday another trans woman died and I didn’t cry until I couldn’t write a poem about it
There is a word for this in Japanese it does not translate I will not try
I drove seven hours north of Marin to confirm something my grandmother once told me
The sky felt low and suffocating I thought I could not last two days here
How much violence does it take to make me a man I am hurting
After Pulse I did not write for many months I just did things I thought were stupid like yoga
I am not a good child never was what was I saying
I was named after a man I did not know I am turning into him is this a better elegy
When my mother wanted a girl I cut off my hair and left the house
There are memories that I will not write down will they die when I do I really hope so
Can I write a poem about my grandmother without mentioning internment once
There is no resurrection I have given her dresses to Goodwill
In the morning I will climb out of my bed and water my five plants how insufferable can I get
She did not know I kissed girls would she have tried to leave the page
I press hard to the paper until my hand begins to hurt

Photo of Syd Westley Syd Westley (they/them) is a queer, mixed-race, non-binary poet from the Bay Area. They are pursuing a BA from Stanford in comparative literature with a focus on marginalized literatures and poetics of America. Westley received the 2019 Justin Chin Scholarship from Lambda Literary and a 2021 scholarship to the New York State Summer Writer's Institute. Their poems have been published by or are forthcoming from Frontier Poetry, Columbia Journal, and others. • Photo by Dory Rodriguez

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