SEAFARING SPLIT, 2016 poetry chapbooks by Jessica Q. Stark and Kiley McLaughlin

Tissue Cultures in Auckland

In another scene,
I was a gardener.
My practice: the
piecemeal work
of rose grafting.

Under micro-vision,
it’s nothing new.

A few tissues,
left hands
groping
in a
Watsonville
built
for resident
bingers and
lost prophets.

In Auckland,
tissue cultures of
cloned plants
lie in
wait for
new forms
of eulogy
to emerge.

I come
from a town
of nuclear
fallout.

A focal
scattering of
radioisotopes
and yellowed
photographs
in catalogue.

Of Manson Caves
and Rocketdyne,
of a neighboring
porno boom,
and Santa Ana
hot air puffs
shaking rows of
manicured trees
each year on cue.

It’s not history,
it’s science:
a boy I kissed
in the back row
of a bus
contracted
late-stage
Hodgkin’s

and I felt
remorseful
as a god

A teacher’s
dourness
I prized
swapped
lives and
lives by
hearsay

in the cliffs of
Zihuatanejo
by the sea

Under the
microscope,
these plants
are whole
bits of
string.

In grafting, you
snap the thorns
off with a ready
thumb,

prune the
pieces to make
way for a
hybrid with
a penchant for
dirty jokes &
erasure.

but
first—

What you really need
is a sturdy shrub.

A parent understock
on which the new
can feed like a virus.

On which the new
will disperse
into hot gusts
of traveling air
towards bloom.

 

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