“Uno” by Rowan Brown

Rowan Brown (age 14)


Draw me something, she says.
I am vacant.
Write me a letter.
I have a hangnail.
Write me a poem, she pleads.
This I can do.

My Goldfish, I say,
buys tangerines like
tissues, and so he
has never had scurvy.

She takes a sip of something in a wine glass
and holds it behind her teeth for a moment.
Another, she says, this one about me.

Your wallpaper, I say,
suffers tinnitus like
sea glass, and so we
have to whisper subtext.

She stands up,
One minute, she says, I have to adjust the radon detector.
She returns and I take her hand from across the low table,
I want you to know, I say, that I intend to—
She cut me off.
I’m not up for this conversation.
Can we just discuss deists and play Uno like usual?
I sit quietly.
I reach for the Uno cards in the end table drawer.
I love you, I say.
I highly doubt that, she says.

We sit.
I deal.
Seven cards to each player,
though there is only two of us.
Uno is no fun with only two,
but I haven’t told her that yet.
I’m sorry, she says, and plays a plus four.

My brass buttons draw their
cartography with toads
and so we have no
more accurate coastlines.

from 2018 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Rowan Brown: “I write poetry because it erases ego, and separation, and helps me to remember that I’m made of the same stuff as what’s all around me. I also happen to enjoy it.”

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