- Djurgården, and: Zipper
There was a lot to fear, though fault was harderto ascribe. A twister came ashoreof the little island — literal island —
we’d reached that morning, tossing pine boughsagainst the glass and into the channelflinging a small table, tea set included.
No one had ever seen a storm like that, they said,burping the baby, passing on its bed of dillthe cold-smoked fish with cream. It was to honor
our arrival, they surmised, that sea and sky had fusedinto a great funnel the force of which disturbedthe human order of this place. Yes,
we riffed, wherever we go, anarchy ensues!Everyone laughed. But it was only half a joke,our dark clothes and sapphic energies
already having marred their pale consensus.And what made the banter funny(that nothing is less personal than climate)
would have made it, in another setting,devastating, cruel. By then the water had relaxed,a mirrored lens reflecting open space. The women
poured the men more tea. We changedthe subject, as if the storm were finished, as ifit had merely passed over us like a kite. [End Page 27]
The woman I lovetends not to flossand has what she calls“European teeth,” virginalto orthodontics. I love themfor how they snag her upper lipat lunch, or minewhen we are reallygoing at it. “MaybeI should have gotten bracesduring the pandemic,”she says while I scrapemy tongue idioticallyin the mirror. “But then I would havehad braces when I met you.”Her dentist nags her about it,she explains in what I callher pan-European accent,but she likes her rakish teeththe way they are. And what elseabout her, anyway,is straight? I floss so muchand hard I can breathethrough my teeth, a tic that makesan insectile sound.She has been told that halfher molars will grind downbefore the othersand make eating difficultin later years.“But then, I probablywon’t live that long,” she saysthrough mentholated foam,and her hand travelsto the long pale seam where oncethey took her heart outto replace a broken valve. [End Page 28]
Maggie Millner is the author of the novel-in-verse Couplets, forthcoming from Farrar, Straus & Giroux in early 2023. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, POETRY, and elsewhere. She works as a Senior Editor at The Yale Review and a Lecturer of Writing at Yale.