by Grace McGovern

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.

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.

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