In the Pockets of October—Margot Nelson

This year has felt like sucking pebbles—
Every passing day like polished stones
Rolling between my worn-down teeth just to feel
The sip of water in the middle of the night.

The emperor moth atop my tarot deck warns of signs I’ve ignored
Of roots I must bury in the loose soil
Lest I get swept away in the wave of green gold leaves falling too fast, too soon.

Remind me again what we’re doing here?

The emperor and his moth say they’re watching over me,
Remind me of things just out of sight
Remind me to grit my teeth and roll the pebbles into my cheeks
And keep them for the parched cracked earth days of a stolen summer.

When I shuffle the cards again, the fool and I fall to the ground
Hands curled in a cup that can’t hold water
Leaking between fingers pressed together as tightly as I can
And still the water flows down my wrists
And how I wished I clutched a wand or a sword
But the cups have always held me and I am glad to be so loved
Until now
When I am drowning, weighed down by spit-smooth pebbles in my pockets
Pulling me deeper into the thralls of frosted sunflower dead heads
Remembering what I must carry at all times.

The emperor himself can hardly catch his breath.

Beeswax candles, wrapped in paper.
Rough yarn and wooden needles.
Rose quartz.
Calendula seeds.
A mourning dove feather, found on my stoop.

These are the tethers, the moth whispers in my hair 
Drink the ease of a summer morning,
Plant tomorrow’s medicine, 

And don’t drop the pebbles.

Margot Nelson (she/her) is a French-American writer based in Vermont. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, Capsule Stories, honey & lime, Q/A Poetry, and other literary magazines. She was nominated for the 2019 Best of the Net: Fiction award and 2019 Pushcart Prize, and is currently working on a children’s book.

photo by David Clode (via unsplash)