i carry this house with me / because in me is this house

she wants horses, so young me

carefully glides the marker

across the ruler and builds

four walls for the stable,

an oval for the trough.

she works on the landscaping,

making comical lumps

that i imagine are rosebushes interspersed with wild chives

growing along the edge of our house.

she tries so hard to color

in between the lines while i create

rooms with glass walls

i carry this house with me

an 8th grader with shoulder-length blonde hair

walks down the hall with her hands

tucked into the straps of her backpack.

adolescent me has a new desire

to run my hands over her soft purple sweater.

my brother’s best friend comes out,

and i never learn what my brother says

or see ryan again.

i try to make sense of why i lie

when i say i’m not focused on her

through the scrambled snow on tv

erasing the line drawn between me and ryan.

my friend convinces me to kiss andy,

a sensation of his tongue and mine

settling for each other.

i long to dissipate in her cigarette smoke

to sense in myself something more

than abstractness or compulsion

when performance feels like survival.

in me is this house

My Body Is a Site of Contestation

I celebrated my tenth birthday only days ago, and now, in the checkout line of the Piggly Wiggly in Brandon, Mississippi, an old man stares at the tips of my newly grown breasts, soft pointed mounds I had thought very little of until this moment.

I stare back, studying the way his tee shirt cradles his gut and tucks into his cargo shorts. I am curious about this man, how he feels comfortable enough to suck his teeth and say to my mother, Well, looky here. You’ve got yourself a real Natalie Wood. My mother blushes before thanking him.  When we get into the car, she angles the rearview mirror towards her and dabs just underneath her eyes with the edge of her shirt. You’ll need a brato avoid lewd men like him, she says. It was then I learned how the body can be consumed without teeth.

a poem in which i bear witness to our breaking

                 you press            my palm           on your chest       this is

                a request          to consider           the white              space

    in between        our words           what language        cannot carry

           to notice              when i take           in my hands                     

           the thin red thread        which           on closer        inspection

connects         my palm to your chest          pulses & thickens

                                  i try to pluck it           this interloper

             when your eyes           widen           your body        goes limp 

               i listen        for your breath           i lift             your head   

                                              enough           to check               your pulse

                                      to marvel at           how your lips             part           

how the thread       braids onto itself           i consider              this togetherness

          our new agonizing           truth           give in to sleep    but wake up    

                                                 alone           sensing loss         

                       i pull         our growth          the end           making its way                    

                                                to me           with a note           haven’t you had enough

Son, Our Brains Can Only Understand Time As Now and Not Now

I know this is hard to understand

but think of it this way:

this sandbox

represents your life.

The not now

is the small pile of sand

your fingers have already sifted,

what your knees have already pushed.

It is every untouched granule, surrounding

you in nonlinear possibility.

But the now,

is the lone grain

stuck to the drool on your chin,

one moment

informed by all the rest,

as you make you way to the other side.

White Men in Brooklyn

White men in Brooklyn

Will let their dog piss on your

Leg and blame your pants

Bio: Michelle Hulan is a Brooklyn-based Canadian poet. She earned her MA in English from the University of Ottawa and spends her free time visiting every independently owned bookstore in New York City.