Friendship – Autumn Christian & Stephanie Yue Duhem

The Girl on Arrakis

for Steff

You’ll never make it across the desert, the boys told her.

A girl like you would collapse at the edge of the dunes,

Water spent. Bones for the sun.

You’d drink from a mirage and swallow dust.

Everyone knows that dreamer is just another word for death.

A song. Just a noise to be discarded.

They said: Better that you stay here with me.

I’ll close the blinds. Save you from the heat.

But fold your elbows and your knees.

Be grateful for the cold even though it chokes.

The way I hook your lungs into the breath of another.

But you always knew the way out.

You lived in the space between the fantasy and the bridge of hope.

If only they could see the way you stepped, the way you slid,

Between dunes, through dry valleys,

Away from the mouths of monsters,

Underneath red stars.

For Autumn C., Recently Moved to Texas

in this parched state

in this late month

I receive

news of another city

in the north

in the east

other trees turning

tongues in burning mouths

orange cinderellas

nearby a church is chiming

eleven        eleven        eleven

while november shifts  

her thickening thighs

in her chair of air


time disclaims banners

a sparser lantana bush

more aggrieved raccoons at the bin


in the face of the eleventh hour

Autumn when

did you decide to live

here again

orange cinderella

you asked me if you should

wear your black dress

I said yes and


crown yourself!

set metals to glint

above your brow

and the blackest eyes

I ever saw

if I saw your eyes

at all

at all

here where writers

flit like ghosts

where your words won’t grace

a shelf

I waited

your season came back

and you


with gold hoops in your ears

to ornament—

Autumn I have been glad

for the event of you

though the years may

throw their fits

and rattle their throats


once a season

cycles in

cycles continue

with you in it

oh season stay

and be my reason

to stay

here your dogs

here your man

your bottle

of absinthe

your guns

your fans

your constant cancellations

your inconstant constellations

of coal-stained glances


though the church is burning

orange cinderella

attend        attend        attend