“We are Yet to Believe” by Lake Vargas


When you were younger, you upturned
the fishbowl you’d found in the garage,

tugged it from the dust that once
surrounded it. Nails and bolts grayed

its insides — television with the jolted
face of static. You shoved the bowl over

your head and toddled your way into
the house. When your mother saw you,

all she thought of was how the garage
floor was now glinting at the ceiling.

Look, I’m an astronaut!, you yelled,
before the calloused cage of her hands

closed over the bowl. Your breath
would no longer sprawl against glass.


You show me a spritz of diamonds
arcing from the nozzle of the hose.

The steepled roof of the greenhouse
and flowers laminated by the sheen

of water. Studs of dirt circle the drain.
The towers of books in your bedroom,

like vertebrae startled out of place.
Each horse figurine posed mid-flight.

I learn this geography, and then you,
your jaw the waxy rind of the moon.

The pink blot of your mouth inks me.
You touch me like you’re searching

for keys in between the cushions
of your couch. I pray you strike gold.


I imagine the sun blows hot breath
across the sky to give the moon

accompanying stars. Without the day,
the night would live alone. In the dark,

I jackknife my legs apart, hoping you
live on the other side of the mattress.

She alights onto your lap, the lazer
just before the shot. Once, I said

our children would have your flaxen hair,
my shaking hands. Her lips plant kisses

into the earthy niche of your collarbone.
My favorite fantasy is always the one

where you hover over me, watching me
root for something deep inside myself.


Of course, we could never bear fruit.
To you this means a silver river of nails

and bolts sliding off your palm, skittering
back into the bowl. To you this means

the slow trickle of boxes from my flat:
a cardboard sash winding its way down

the stairs. When doctors want to test
babies’ reflexes, they pass a gloved finger

along the palm, wait for the baby’s fist
to close around it. One clutch of a bead

to the line of an abacus. We don’t need
this anymore. We have learned reflexes.

I ghost across others’ bodies and await
the rappel of your breath down my chest.


On the complex’s back steps, we sit
like two matryoshki on a windowsill,

poorly painted versions of ourselves
nesting inside of us. The party knocks

at the door, but we’ve gathered to watch
the steady frottage of a day’s two halves.

I keep it back, but I wish I was the first
girl you’ve ever met. We could have been

childhood friends. Scrapes on my knees,
like signatures scrawled in red pen.

The tiny craters that gravel makes still
embedded into your palms. We would

hold hands without shaking. You would
say your name and I would give mine.


Lake Vargas writes poetry, fiction, and memoirs. Her work has been published by Vagabond City Lit JournalSea Foam Mag, and Empty Mirror, among others. She tweets at @lakewrites. More of her works can be found on her Tumblr, @stonemattress.