tethered By Robin Gow


when the atoms speak to each other
they talk in mileage. holding hands
they whisper a story about stolen acorns
& the recluse sugar we wanted to eat.
i am touched by a long stick from the yard.
bamboo grows in my living room like television.
once an ad told me “i guarantee” & i thought
“i have never been so certain.”
seeing the atom like a ripe cherry
i tried to bite down hard. my tongue
is an ugly worm of need. my father’s atoms
are drunk & floating in amber. looking up
at an old over-used sky. i take mine
down to the laundry mat to clear them up.
fresh smell of “alright alright.” watching
the little spheres tumble in a machine.
i take my composition to the playground later
to research childhood. did i have one?
is it too late? sipping a pine tree.
sticky cones for dolls. the atoms are saying
“nevermind” & they are letting go.
i am troubled deeply by this. i take everything
as an omen because it is. a dead bird is always
a sign of a car crash or a broken heart.
you were the one who told me that sometimes
atoms link up together. hold tight.
talk & talk for hours. for every scientist
there is a lover painted on a shower curtain.
i tell my atoms to kiss again.
spend all night at the cutting board
trying to slice on in half. i don’t want
destruction i just want to see inside.
but maybe inspection is a form of destruction.
my atoms are all pink. well, not all.
one is lavender & one is bruise-blue.
here let me show you them. no microscope needed.
plug your ears & your eyes.
yes, there they are.

By Robin Gow


Robin Gow is a trans poet and young adult author from rural Pennsylvania. They are the author of Our Lady of Perpetual Degeneracy (Tolsun Books 2020) and the chapbook Honeysuckle (Finishing Line Press 2019). Their first young adult novel, A Million Quiet Revolutions is forthcoming March 2022 with FSG Books for Young Readers. Gow’s poetry has recently been published in POETRY, Southampton Review, and Yemassee. Gow received their MFA from Adelphi University where they were also an adjunct instructor. Gow is a managing editor at The Nasiona, a poetry editor at MAYDAY, and the assistant editor at large at Doubleback Books. They live in Allentown Pennsylvania and work as a community educator on Domestic and Intimate Partner violence.

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