this midwestern sky
stretches farther
than you could
ever dream of
running and its job
is to remind you that
there is nowhere
to hide.

our first date was
in a cornfield
and i didn’t let you
hold my hand.

the old woman ringing
us up says we
are such sweet friends,
hand in hand, and
my mouth is a cloud
full of rain.

you can only see lighting
under the cover of night.

midwesterners are nice
until they’re not or
until i kissed you
outside the car cause
you carried the groceries
for me. spit is hard
to get out of shoes.

i want to be brave
for you but i’ve forgotten
what a scream sounds like,
the release of a pain
not swallowed.

growing up, my favorite
days were violin lessons.
the bow was a blade
of grass between my fingers
but all i can think about
when i smell sappy
sweet rosin is
how disappointed
mrs. carlson would be
if she saw me now.

we take the train
to chicago and this husk
of metal is, for today,
a kaleidoscope of color.
i have to put on
my sunglasses.

in the dark, a body
is nothing more
than a body
and a kiss is just
two wants

a flood has been building
in me for twenty-two
years. i pray for you
that when it bursts
you are far away
from this wasteland.

“maze” was the winner of OUT/CAST’s inaugural and Pride Month-inspired contest, themed “State of the States.”

Grace McGovern is a recent college graduate from Illinois Wesleyan University. Her work has been published on the Academy of American Poets website, as well as in Illinois’s Best Emerging Poets: An Anthology. Her work often grapples with the intersections between adolescence, identity, and sexuality.

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