"Animal People in the Crepe Myrtle Forest"
Sometimes I pretend you broke up with me
because, in my sleep, I said I hated your
novel. To be fair, it was extremely boring.
When you found my notes, you argued over
each comma. My question marks made your
allergies flare. I planted a crepe myrtle for
each day you spent revising. Beneath each
root ball I laid the burnt pages of previous
iterations. My palms blossomed red afterwards.
My applause made no sound. I wish I could
say that later that night I'd found you outside
keening, Bisclaveret in my crepe myrtle forest,
which by then had grown sharp and dense enough
to hide your pockets of prayers, your snifters
of noise. It was not like this. It was a hands-on
internship, a two-credit course, a report to
your supervisors. One of my dreams as a
child was of being locked overnight in a
department store. Once I learned what a crepe
myrtle was, I began to see them everywhere.
Everyone knew about them before, save me.
Erica Bernheim is currently Associate Professor of English at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, where she directs the creative writing program. Her writing has recently appeared in DIAGRAM, The Missouri Review, Cutbank, and Denver Quarterly, while her first full-length collection, The Mimic Sea, was published in 2012 by 42 Miles Press (Indiana University South Bend).