Poetry by Elena Rielinger
Next Year, or Maybe the Year After
I’m still going to take that road trip across America & I’ll settle down somewhere warm & sunny year-round, buy a little, white two-bedroom house, plant a lemon tree in the front yard & keep an herb garden in the back. I’m still going to paint a name on the mailbox, except it will be mine, not ours, in curling script on both sides, & I’m still going to paint my room blue—I won’t let you ruin that color for me—& I’ll cover the bed in a fluffy comforter of seaside damask.
I’ll have a fireplace I’ll never use because even in the autumn my friends & I will sit outside on the patio, electric tealights scattering the glasstop table, us in loose-knit blankets, wearing fingerless gloves, holding mugs of local mulled wine, laughing over empty plates of homemade pesto, tiny pieces of basil sticking to the ceramic, dark green celebration pennants because I finally learned how to grow a full & lush bush of it along the edge of the rustic riverstone sidewalk. & when Mellencamp starts pouring from my phone speaker & I feel like a handful of lemon seeds is sliding down my throat, I’ll listen all the way through. It was my favorite song before you taught yourself how to play it on the guitar & now I’ll simply sing along with someone else. I’ll swallow those lemon seeds & grow a tree out of my stomach, too.
I want baskets of lemons
& I want the lemonade,
the lemon-rosemary butter,
the lemon tarts with flaky crust
covering the counter,
the lemon custards garnished
with lavender buds,
the bags of candied lemon rinds.
I want lemons until my teeth rot
from sugar and citric acid.
I want the kitchen to smell of
lemons until my eyes water.
I never want to forget how much
room a smell can take up.
I want all the lemons even though
they aren’t good for me, & I hate the color yellow. They are all I have.
At the end of the night I’ll be washing the dishes myself, & I won’t be mad at the chip on the
edge of the plate where the yellow gloss meets a red rose. I will dry it & put it back on the shelf.
Elena Rielinger is an emerging writer who has had the joy of calling Ohio, Virginia, Rhode Island, and Michigan “home.” As a high school student, her poetry has appeared in Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Parallax Literary Journal, and Ricochet Review. This is her first publication post-graduation. She enjoys writing nature poems that appeal to all of the senses, especially smell and taste. More information can be found on her website elenarielinger.wordpress.com and she can be found on Twitter @elena_rielinger and Instagram @elenarielinger.