I Am Fermenting

by Ellen Gwin

In my bitter sixteens I tasted like sweet, succulent blackberries. As dark as I presented myself, my skin oozed red sap onto anyone who with lingering touches and my leaves unwillingly engulfed the entirety of the world around me.

At eighteen, I felt elevated and acidic, like luscious red raspberries. I wanted to be sweet but with a bite. I wanted to touch every part of every body, every tip of every finger; the lingering touches did not satiate my hollow center, I wanted you to soak in my acidity while you relished in my sweet disposition.

At twenty, I became a multi-seeded, multi-faceted pomegranate. I was easily plucked, but not easily opened and once inside I was not one, I was full of many: I did not know myself and neither would anyone else. Eat me and you will never see winter again; I will bring eternal springs but that is all you will ever know.

At twenty-five, I am a grape: rotting into a tasteful drink. Soon, I will become fine wine but for now I am shriveling. I strive to taste both sweet and acidic, my drink made of many. Be patient and pure intoxication may lead us to a happenstance connection.

Published in 805 Lit + Art Mag 2021

My Daydreams

by Ellen Gwin

Raspberries in rich cream sitting on silver plates while angels promenade around a whimsical garden. 

Human-like creatures with golden eyes and fiery dispositions drinking Cabernet Sauvignons that resembles blood a little too much. 

Crystal from Czech full of peony petals spilling and over the lavender carpets and floating with the movement of those in skirts.

Delicate hands dancing while feet clumsily find their way to maneuver with a partner. 

Candles on antique sticks dripping onto maple tables velvet chairs tickling my bare thighs.

Pearls and opalites kept in ornate boxes while rosaries and aquamarine dangle from a beaded bonsai tree.

Bumblebees making geometric honeycombs in willow trees living in sweet harmony with kissing butterflies.

Parisian Escape

by Ellen Gwin

Crouching in the corner of a neglected attic, I listen the sounds of honking cars, of clicking heels, of whispered pardons and marvel at the simplicity of daily encounters. 

The erratic scents rise to the top floor window like dough in the oven and fuming cigarettes mingling with the rancid smell of piss allusive to escape from innocence. 

As I run my fingers over the grooves of splintered floors I find spots left untouched, covered in dust, beckoning my inquiry. Averting my gaze, I return to the haze.

Men sing loudly, and often terribly, with circus-like accordions imploring each passerby to hesitate within their promenade long enough to reach into their pocket and flip an ill-fated coin.

Ying Yang

by Ellen Gwin

Purple plums pass my resembling bruised lips,

Kissing strawberries, relishing cherries; my mouth grows tired of unwanted fruits.

Terror within speech, stuttering over seeds planted but not yet sprouted.

Juices spill over my hands in anticipation of reaching my searching tongue.

Sticky hands pick up unwanted debris, am I too dirty or too sweet?

Acid fills my stomach, regurgitation tempts my esophagus.

No more fruits, no more sweet; par consequence, a life of loneliness with no debris.

Together We are Happy, Loving, and Pure

by Ellen Gwin

Give me a tea set that’s incomplete
Let me warm my own water to a bubbling boil
And pour the steaming liquid into cups of my own
Full of Daman Frère’s earl grey bergamot. 

Let the strawberry cream in my silver jug
Act as a buffer between hellish heat
And chipping china plated with gold, 
embroidered with gardenias.

But let me come to you for a sugar bowl and spoon
To remind me that once I lived compartmentalized
But you showed me the sweetness 
of stirring the concoction together

Our Flirtations

by Ellen Gwin

Rouge my cheeks with the incessant sun
Make me blush beneath the heat
Of the unrelenting rays
So that I awaken feeling warm
As I rise for the day.

Make my lips beg stumble over 
These strawberry jam hues
While they tremble with giggles,
Filled with light-hearted longing
To feel the effects
Of your temperament too.

Thaw the marrow in my bones
And turn my head with the
Clement air of your summery beam.
No clouds in the cerulean sky to block
Intent direction— clear as day.

We’re All Scary in Our Own Way

by Ellen Gwin

  Sometimes I feel like Frankenstein’s monster. Steadily observing, learning, and mimicking. Trying to figure out where I went wrong. I read books by some man named Milton trying to decipher heaven from hell and sinners from saints and wondering where the grey area went. If I follow the rules I’m rejected by my creator, if I reign in anarchy he rejects me still. 

   I understand people run when I walk their way but I don’t understand quite why, so I look to Plutarch’s Lives in hopes of learning to act more kind. Maybe I’m not right to feel this way and perhaps there’s a reason I don’t understand, at least there’s Goethe to give me a hand. 

  Perhaps I should curse god and all that he’s created; set fire to innocent cottages and salt fertile land. Bite the hands of those who have fed me in anger for soliciting false hope. Isolate myself from all I’ve ever been curious about. Or perhaps I could trust my own intuition, not seeking validation from majorities, just give into my own volition. Let my heart guide my head and find love by happenstance.

Reclaiming Pink

by Ellen Gwin

   I am a flamingo, more resilient standing on one foot than you on two. I am a starburst, delectably sweet and decayer of teeth. I am a rose quartz, captivating but cutting edge. I am a blushing rose, pleasant on the eyes but not if you touch me. I am a grapefruit, sour until there’s reason to turn taste candied. 

You are No Bee Charmer

by Ellen Gwin

   When you drink my sugary honey, remember its origins. Betray me and I will sting your throat, watching it swell until you cannot swallow. My sweet nectar will fill your mouth and drown your barren words. The contemptuous air that once escaped your bloated lungs will be clogged with my ravishing ambrosia. Then you will see why no one comes near the hive.