Joanna Cleary  

Joanna Cleary (she/her) is an emerging artist and recent graduate of the University of Waterloo. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in The /tƐmz/ Review, The Hunger, Gordon Square Review, Every Pigeon, Always Crashing,Apricity Press, and Typehouse Magazine, among others. Follow her on Instagram @joannacleary121.  


It’s midafternoon and the sun is so close
I’m lonely again. I kneel down to pray,

Heart beating, eyes open, flecks of food
Embedded petulantly in the carpet frays

While I ask God to please give me back
A time before I called my ex-lover a slut

Because I was jealous (followed by a job,
Nicer teeth, better sex). He says nothing

As He looks down on me (eyes shut now),
His face just like Dad’s when I was seven

And had said I wanted my very own kitten
For my birthday and Christmas combined

Because I needed to feel how living things
Could fit in my hands. When you’re older,

He said. I looked down to hide the shame
As hot as sunlight on the back of my neck

(How naïve, to think love could be enough
To protect all loved things from yourself

When you aren’t worthy). One day soon,
I’ll adopt a cat who doesn’t mind mess

And watch him eat crumbs from the carpet
Until I feel clean when I pray. Late at night,

Just after he curls up on my chest to listen
To all that I own beating insistently within,

I’ll bow my head down towards him, rest,
Let him tell me what I could possibly mean.