​Lily Kaylor Honoré

“Montana,” Anastasia Duchess

Naked Ladies

You and I are in a forest of the safest kind. Central stars, skyscraper-fringed, bright neon. I feel you bow-curved around my back, threaded through me, taut. Bear fur is warmest under the arms and at the brown whorl of your underbelly. Hardened strands of tree sap, amber beads caught there. The paw grip, which does not break the skin, pull-scrapes against my clavicle. The tap tap tap of your finger and against it the little grape. Soft purple. In the fir woods, just one tree with silver leaves: here I turn myself for you. My bark grows rough to catch the hairs of your pelt. In the mirror you brush back your short hair, raking sound of paddle brush and pomade. Talc shaker, Pinaud Clubman, yours; my glossed ceramic powder pot, Wisteria: what slips. Fougère, Hoyt’s Bergamot conjuring, an open bottle of Kananga Water spills. From behind the mermaid’s ear I pull an abalone comb. Bears smell of lake water, mud and reeds. Stalks of wild pink amaryllis: naked ladies. Mushrooms in the rain. Clean raw pink fish, fiddlehead ferns uncurling, everything moving in reverse. Blossfeldt photos spun across the gallery walls, a stop motion flipbook. Trillium leaves, baby’s breath, we lie on a carpet of moss. I am untangling burrs, I am picking berries. Those candies in the oval tin boxes — I remember not the taste but the look of them: whitish dust on hardened sugar, which disappears when sucked. Pedestrian bejeweled, small glass under the tongue. A rustiness to the cold clear water. The boathouse in summer, the little dock. We paddle out on our bellies where even splinters are soft, I write my name in you with just a finger.

Lily Kaylor Honoré is a queer Californian poet and essayist. She is currently an MFA candidate at New York University, where she is an adjunct creative writing instructor, and the fiction co-editor of Washington Square Review. She was awarded a William Dickey poetry fellowship at San Francisco State University in 2020. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Sinister WisdomFoglifter, Stanford University’s Mantis, and Through Lines Magazine. Honoré lives in San Francisco and Brooklyn and is infrequently on IG @museumoflily. 

On Pleasure: “‘Naked Ladies’ is a poem of queer female desire, situated somewhere between psyche and reality, and somehow within my hyper-specific San Francisco 1990s-butch-femme-punky-alterna-glitter-dyke lesbian context. The pleasure of sex, the pleasure of imagination and memory, the pleasure of ordering words on a page. And the pleasure of certain words linked, if only in my own mind, to formative places and people, especially ex-girlfriends number 1, 2, and 9.”