The color of blueberry
syrup, stain-lines

bleeding through a lifetime
of August sunburns:

they are angel wings, names
of the once-beloved,

crosses rising like lighthouses
above collarless shirts.

In this neighborhood
south of the river,

they are stories
no one asks to hear,

painted dot-to-dot with needles,
told anyway.

When the line to the smoke shop
is long, and you find yourself

tucking your phone away
in favor of the view of the woman

with the schooner inked
across her nape,

you think of all the ones
who ever dreamed a blue anchor

into possibility, gave it reason
to lift, a tide-rise for a fleet

shoving off—forward and on,
even as they fade like cells dividing.

Marissa Rose has recently appeared in Literary Mama, Likely Red Press, and Flying Island. You can read more of her work at or find her on Twitter @marissacrose.