Aug 10


By Sara Sturek

You were looking for a glimpse of god and I was looking at the rats
running across the floor, wondering if you ever also dreamed
about becoming a sumo wrestler. Before I could respond to your proposal, one dirty
fellow skidded across the rug, climbed your chimney leg, and bounced on your knee
I started laughing until I couldn’t breathe and you screamed like a boy
I said I didn’t want to marry you and left, it was the beginning

of June and the New York that people who aren’t from New York rave about began
to shine between the buildings. I gargled with the smell of warm garbage rising from the rats
sleeping belly down in the subway station snuggled like young boys
in bed being told a bedtime story. An hour ago you were probably dreaming
of our life together. It may be harsh but I’ve never been a woman with wobbly knees
and you’ve never been a man with a sink full of dirty

dishes for me to clean. You would realize later on I enjoyed the dirt
under my fingernails too much and believed that women do not begin
truly living until they go figure skating alone, drunk, knee
deep in freedom and flinging bodies. But even so we got more than one rat
to worry about like what do I do with my hands and all the dreams
I have about eating teenage boys

for breakfast and teaching them about poetry. Boys,
I’m told by my mother, would like me if I smiled more and wasn’t so dirty
minded. I didn’t have the heart to say I wasn’t looking for a man of my dreams
but trying to be the love child of Joan Jett and Joan Dideon. Wait, we were beginning
to get somewhere until flashbacks of me on all fours, your fingers wrapped around my rats
nest hair worked its way into my head. You would always tell me to get on my knees

but what was the point? I’ve already swallowed the sun. I needed
to become something of substantial girth, purposefully heavy, a sumo wrestler, a boy
with discipline. You didn’t understand that I believed love was an old, ratty
toy played with by children who grow up watching Dirty
Dancing dying to meet their Swayze. This belief of mine began
walking with hands not feet, that things in excess become their opposite, little girl dreams

turn into big girl nightmares. Every night I dreamt
you would hopefully leave me for someone cleaner with nice bony knees
that would have made this easier. Months later, that impossible woman begins
reading Baudelaire while I sit and wrench my hardware. Oh boy,
please shut the windows for us I don’t want the sun to see us coming, covered in dirt
marigolds growing out of our eyes and mouths twirling each other’s rat
tails. I hope all your dreams come true my brave lover boy,
that you eventually find what you need and take comfort in this dirty
little secret of mine- how that summer I began to dance with dead rats.


Sara Sturek is a recovering New Yorker attending the University of Southern California to pursue a degrees in Creative Writing and Communication. She is the recipient of the Mark Greenberg Fellowship in Poetry for 2020. Her work has appeared in Palaver Arts Mag and the Luna Collective. You can find her on Instagram @sassyy_ass.


Art by Michelle Johnsen, art editor

Michelle Johnsen is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine,, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at]