Gone Lawn
a journal of word-things
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Gone Lawn 49
flower moon, 2023

Featured artwork, Shift VI, by Catherine Skinner

new works

Ruby Rorty

On blurry nights,

I interrogate the moon. I want to know what she saw. I name the fall of light between us lunarity and explain that it measures the distance between her and me, which in the cosmic sense of things is not very different at all. Hours pass like pieces of fruit falling off a table and bruising; with every apple, another piece of her fades to black.

I make three neat lines of moon dust and snort them with the two dollar bill I’ve been saving. Outside, the inexplicable parking lot: breathing hard sweating beads of silver, I reach up, pull at a loose thread behind my ear. I want my unraveling to be ruled inevitable; I am so impatient for the end to begin. I suspect myself of glowing. I suspect the moon of hiding. I suspect the concrete around me of outliving everything I love. I suspect you, and myself, but most of all I suspect her: a half, a sliver, and I still can’t remember.

Greenwashing: A Love Story

My lover walks in on me crying to a nature documentary about deforestation. He takes my hand and we drive through three days of yellow fields and snow-capped mountains to see the redwoods of my hometown. We cry and say to each other, “look at all there is to lose.” The trees say nothing, but we hear them breathing. At the beach, my lover lifts a fish from the surf, kisses it on the lips and lets it go. “Make a wish,” he tells me. I wish for more fishes. And fewer beachfront resorts. Also, one of those flattering swimsuits made out of upcycled plastic bottles. On the drive home, we can’t decide if we feel better or worse. We apologize to the trees on the roadside for all the gas we’ve ever used. “It’s okay,” they sway. “Just be sure to bring reusable bags to the grocery store next time.”. Back home in our apartment, my lover twists halogen bulbs into every lamp. We watch a happy movie about dolphins and I can’t stop thinking about deforestation. Onscreen, a dolphin jumps clear out of the water and splashes back in. “In the time it took for that dolphin to jump clear out of the water and splash back in,” I say, “five football fields of trees were deforested.” My lover frowns and rubs my shoulders. We say to each other, “What can we do?” We stuff our reusable grocery bags into our hydroflasks. We start an illicit composting ring with the other people on our floor. Nothing is enough. At dawn, my lover wakes with an idea. “I have an idea,” he says to me. We go to the compost bin and scavenge for things that might grow. We make a salad: apple cores, peach pits, carrot greens, smooth brown avocado stones. We feed each other with forks and then our hands. We go outside to the ugly lawn and we wait. We do not check our phones. Finally, the avocado takes root somewhere in my stomach and I can feel its roots creeping groundwards down my legs. Its sapling leaves rustle in my throat and mouth. The leaves whisper “This is what you can do.” My toes grow scraggly tails: purple, orange, ghost white. The carrots dive for the dirt and say “This is what you can do.” I look to my lover and see that his beautiful blue eyes are all the more beautiful with sunflowers bursting from them. A young apple branch has leaned through his open mouth to offer a hard green gem. With our last, we hold each other. There will be no more lawn, we think. We will feed the neighborhood and each other; ourselves and a million crawling things. “This,” the leaves and the sunflowers and the carrots and the tiny apple say in one voice. “This is what we can do.”

Ruby Rorty is a writer and researcher living in Chicago, IL. Her work has appeared in HAD, hex and the Bear Creek Gazette, among others, and has been nominated for Best Microfiction, Best of the Net, and the Pushcart Prize. Find her on Twitter @RortyRuby and Instagram @ruby.rorty.