Let's Take a Trip So We Can Go Underwater
dear Elvis: you remind me of the rose colored faux
fur, the honey butter jailbirds, tangerine cake batter.
menthol stirring in the pink drapes. dabbing her ears
with soft tulips and african moon petals, she thinks
of vanilla pools lapping at gooey toes, washing her
feet in the plastic tub, wrapping callused heels in
jojoba and mango soap. the kitchen is Spanish tile,
her perfume like slipping on the crest of a hibiscus
breeze. floral sofas surf over white moss carpeting.
the sink runs like the water of a baptism. she’d like
a New Orleans boy, a silk blue lotus, a jazz man. but
remember how sad they always were, those somber
scats and lavender rhythms? remember the last words
we swapped like coconut fronds before you closed the
women’s bathroom door and suddenly you were no
more than a fluorescent ripple, she was rolling in blood
orange laundry? she is looking for Graceland, some
place beyond the creamy curve of the marina. she aims
be fresh and soft, like peaches or jasmine babies. the
shower is filled with key lime smoke. a cigarette is lit
between slices of citron. take your seat at the kitchen
island, Elvis, swallowed by water, and I’ll look for the
acid jazz channel on the plastic grapefruit radio.
OLIVIA ALGER is in her second year at Interlochen Arts Academy as a junior creative writing major. She is from the Chicago area, but has lived in Wisconsin and Minneapolis as well. She has received three Silver Keys and two Honorable Mentions from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and her work has been published in Teenage Wasteland, Inklings Literary Magazine, The Anthology of Young American Poets, and two editions of The Red Wheelbarrow. She has also received recognition as a Merit Winner and Finalist in short story from the National YoungArts Foundation. She has found that great movies, bad jokes, good music, odd dancing, and exciting glasses are some of the things that define her and inspire her writing.
Discussion of Process:
"Music is perhaps the most important part of my writing process. As an illustration of what went behind the creation of this piece, I've included an acid jazz song ("Yes I Do" by Miles Bonny). This song helped me find the rhythm, movement, and expressive tone that this poem needed. It acted as a smooth undertone for the jazz/blues theme to the piece, and one of the lyrics also provided me with a title."