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by Ilyssa Forman

Lake Anna

I am sleeping in the place where my uncle died,

his side of the bed in the Barberton basement


of his husband’s family home. The ducks are resting

on leaves by the lakeside, necks twisted


and lain gently on their wings. The leaves are red

and don’t stop falling. The lake is an endless spring—


we don’t know where it begins or ends—

much like the mystery of our lives.


Across oceans people watch rockets overhead

like the fiery confetti of death. I cannot sleep.


I see dead fish washed up on the shore,

their pale open eyes looking out towards nothing.


You could meet the love of your life in Ohio.

You could die in Ohio. It can happen anywhere.


The living fish swim in schools of fear away 

from my shadow, the ripples of a black gum leaf.


Ilyssa Forman (they/she) is a queer Jewish poet, cat mom, and handpoke tattoo artist. Their debut chapbook, This Side of the River, is available now with Bottlecap Press. Ilyssa was named a 2023 Brooklyn Poets Fellow and their poems have previously appeared in Lesbians are Miracles, dyke diaries, and Femme Dyke Zine. They can be found on Instagram @ilyssaforman.


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