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I stir at dawn / I wake next to you / I emerge from a dream of us, 

glowing and radiant and together.


(These are all different ways of 

saying the same thing: that you are there / 

will always be there / have always been there.

That I want you: here / now / forever.)


It is the same dream as always: a nameless city, our hands, the happy swell of birdsong

when we finally, finally kiss. Time slows, traffic stops, you take my jaw into

your fingers, you—


I blink lazily out of it like always. I stare out the window, at

the splotches of white across an expanse of familiar, undiluted blue. I wish, for a breath,

that I was back there. That we were kissing and kissing and kissing and—


Then, the birdsong again. The melody that I do not know the words to but that

presses at the fleshy, feeling parts of me: my heart / my lungs / my mouth.


Then, you, close enough that I can make out precious details without straining:

your slack jaw, your open mouth, your 

drool, dried on your freckled and beautiful cheek.


Your eyes flutter open too soon. I freeze / I stop / I am 

dead in the water, a deer in headlights, a—


You yawn. You smile. I see for the first time the boundary that the universe has laid

between us: sunshine, a thin strip of light splashed right on the sheets,

demarcating my world of quiet yearning / white-hot want from yours. You

slump forward, into it, into the empty / overflowing space. 


Like it’s nothing at all.

Like it’s just light.




Originally hailing from Florida, Riley Lampert is an English major at the University at Buffalo with a curricular focus on creative writing and gender studies. She is expected to graduate in spring 2024. Her work places particular emphasis on queer readings of nineteenth and twentieth-century horror and the monstrosity of the social “other.”

Summer / Spring

It’s spring—a gentle thaw, sweet like sunflowers—

or maybe it’s summer. Hazy days, lazy days,

mornings and months bleeding together into

one long, sweaty idyll.

You—we—feel eternal,

  irreplaceable: the earth

breathes with new life—the forest reawakens somewhere

lush in the distance, the stream babbles freshly—and I want

nothing more than to

never leave.

(The hot simmer of something aching and familiar

in my throat, under my ribs,

reminds me that I already have. It’s

       already gone.)

I try to think of you instead—you on that day, at that lake—gangly body draped over

mine, face pressed against the soft slope of

my shoulder, fingers electric and threaded through my

my hair. (My hair! I can’t believe it, even now.)

The feel of skin against

skin takes my breath away. This is an

intimacy I should recoil from but can’t, don’t want to. You—there, then—

sticky, sweaty, the feel of you only just dampened by 

the familiar must of lake water.

       (We are almost perfect. It is almost perfect. Perfect in

every way but one, but that was something I wasn’t

allowed to want. Something you couldn’t let me


Summer, spring. With you, they feel just the same. Without you, too.


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