Alina Pleskova | Poetry
When you ask what I’d do if I woke up tomorrow & didn’t have to worry over money, I tell you the truth. Commission a clamshell-shaped bed that snaps shuts on command, then close out my filial piety—tickets to St. Pete for mama, a team of attentive doctors for papa—& the tab where I searched, What happens when die with debt. You smile, tactfully pull out your wallet again.
I wake early to move $$$ between accounts, take dull pleasure in washing the rental’s uncorroded cookware, wonder how much the bedsheets cost. The vista of burnt fields just past the vineyard, duck liver, absurdly soft paper towels in the bathroom all say class traitor, though I’m only a visitor.
But cold sea spittle in my gullet is free. So’s scrambling up the cliff’s ferny sides, letting a gentleness permeate my thoughts. At the verge of the greenest it gets, I try to resist peering over. To stay where it’s vertiginous. Like Ana wrote, Let us surround ourselves with / Stupid pleasures. Pockets full of clacking beach stones & no reception for hundreds of miles. Fat dragonflies & orange, reddish, maroon starfish. Card games on an overturned barrel in a seaside dive bar’s backyard. The orchestral arrangements of frogs. Purple claws of echium, salt-rubbed slatted houses, downy roadside apricots. How we smell alike after days on the road. Are covered in each other’s hair.
These sinewy manzanitas were once ocean, a placard mentions. Every millennium, a new terrace of land added. I’m inordinately obsessed with time lapse, given how little sense I have of it. And sex, given how often it doesn’t match what’s in my head. Perhaps because of that.
I consider writing about the threesome that never happened after the dive, as if it did. Some fantasy to pull from. Rather than drifting off with one arm draped over him, a leg draped over the other him. Law & Order: SVU in the background. But the actual wins out, in all its inelegance. Laughing at the breakfast counter next morning, passing ketchup & ibuprofen.
A hand on my knee while curving around a coastal highway begs the question: what sort of sickos invented offices & economies? And don’t we think the UFOs came around already, felt the vibe, & got too disgusted to bother? Thousands of miles away, someone’s huffing my dirty laundry & telling me so. The sun’s cast works toward golden at a Californian dally. And I linger along.
Alina Pleskova is a poet, editor, and Moscow-born immigrant turned proud Philadelphian. Her work has been featured in American Poetry Review, Thrush, Peach Mag, The Poetry Project, and other places. She coedits bedfellows magazine and is a founding member of the Cheburashka Collective, a group of women and nonbinary writers from the Soviet diaspora. Her first full-length collection, Toska, will be published by Deep Vellum in June 2023.