How odd it is, and so apt, that I think of you every time I see a spotted lanternfly. Especially a dead one. As though you are dead and not seventy miles away and a heartbreaker. You’ve always hated those bugs; you say, They destroy everything that’s made a home here. How odd, and so apt. I have not told you of the water in my basement, or the flies I’ve killed, or if I’m okay. Instead, I smell the flood from down the street, the gray wind slurping past my car in a New Jersey accent. And though I am not nature itself, and though I’ve tried not to be angry, I’ve swapped one sadness for another. My body’s been a strange collared animal, sleeping for two hours in the eye of the hurricane, in the broad, incongruous daylight. Since our breakup, your absence has been a blue-mouthed shadow, and the flood comes like permission, a storm of self-conception. The spotted lanternfly sometimes refuses to die, hopping around half-crushed and half of itself. And here we both are despite the flood; its world and mine is an empty auditorium, cast everywhere. Who will watch us suffer? Who will give meaning to it? Is there really anything to learn from this pain besides how to unravel and re-ravel again?
Veronica Beatrice Walton is an educator from New Jersey working and studying in New York City. Her debut chapbook, CARIAD: 18 LOVE POEMS, is forthcoming from Ethel Micro-Press (late 2022), and her work has appeared in the Journal of New Jersey Poets, Ponder Review, The Bitchin' Kitsch, Little Stone, and others. Follow her on Twitter @bildungswalton.