i am nothing if not adept at lying to collectors
i have years of practice bricking up my rarest,
my most strange and wonderful curios,
my treasures dusted over and
hidden in a boarded up antique shop.
you would have loved me if i had grown up
true and broad like a tree, a spread canopy
with branches strong enough to hold a house for you
but years ago they gave me walls and i chose their comfort
they built me a box and i was so grateful for a roof
i never realized how crooked my back had become
until you rose up in the east and i couldn’t stretch
far enough to reach you.
in a parallel world i grew up fierce and loud and you loved me for it.
different from how you love me here
where i am a skeleton and a trove beyond a
rampart wrecked with two holes
one you left there searching for me
the other i made reaching back.
Emily Gustafson is a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and has a dual degree in English and Media & Cultural Studies with a minor in Hispanic Studies. She is also an actor, playwright, and nonprofit arts professional living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota.