Contra, by Emily Shue



“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” –Ernest Hemingway

Write soft about
what keeps your heart in place—write
all the nights you went to bed
brave and sober, facing the sharp edges
of your mattress island. Monsoon season comes
and you have managed to stay afloat.
Write distorted impressionist paintings about
every single time you have tumbled
down the rabbit hole of love
only to claw your way back out
brushing dirt from your acid
washed knees.
Write blurry, pastel colored plastic scenery,
write acoustic guitars and Christmas mornings spent
eating cinnamon buns in matching pajamas.
Write tart and sour about what keeps the hurt
from seeping into the paper cuts over your eyes
and diluting your blood with lemon juice.
Write unforgiving, write patient, write endlessly,
write candles
losing themselves to heat and gravity, hot
wax cupped like a prayer in the palms of your
cold hands,
write church services spent composing sonnets
about sex pressed up
against the humming soda machine
in the laundromat
across from your house,
tasting the salty sweat on his upper lip.

Emily Shue is a student at Ursinus College with a passion for writing, reading, and knitting socks.


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