Three Poems by Melissa Leto


The night we made you the windchimes went relentless. Inside a metal wish bowl went the specimen. A drop of spice market: lemon, cinnamon, orange, cardamom. Our puppies lost teeth that day, from gnawing. The spring beds were turned. Kumquat newly planted, a moringa tall. Your mother kept her feet up the headboard.

Our wedding cups were filled: budded apple, twirling fuscia
petals opening, royal purple-eyed daisies, scent of orange
blossoms a single rain away.

As we wished you:

flit to us, starlight.
Bring to us your chariot and hope.
Light the next of our days with the flint of your being.

Crop Rotation

Hyacinth in snow
sugar snap peas
broccoli to flower
lettuce to seed,

snapdragons white and yellow
curry fragrant in my hands
finally a new bed ready
years composting gold from sand.

Scraps of our lives come together
this year I know to wait
to let the front pinwheel go fallow
considering autumn’s fate.

The Prevention of Families

We aren’t allowed to go to the doctor because we had no money when we applied for insurance and since we received state insurance, we aren’t allowed to consult regarding family planning unless that plan is not to have a family. Our friends in Boston with good insurance are getting hormone treatments and the gynecologist finds the cervix for the specimen.

Our Youtube searches include:
At-home insemination tips
LGBTQIA at-home insemination
Thawing frozen sperm
How to find the cervix
how to make sure it’s really the cervix
what position is best to find the cervix
which ovulation predictor kit is best

We order a syringe that is patent-pending and ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) with strips that go dark when she’s in a peak phase, prior to ovulation. I like the OPK whose peak fertility signal is a smiley face. They get it.

All the lesbian insemination videos on Youtube fail us.
The straight ones are worse and, as usual, don’t pertain to us.
One video warns of the natural smell of semen and not to be alarmed. I cannot say what the natural smell of semen is. I have never inserted semen into a woman’s cervix. Our bathroom counter has pee sticks everywhere: drying on a wrapper, taped to the fertility tracker on the wall, stuck inside a plastic reader.

With everything, I want it to be easy: to get pregnant, for her cervix to hold the baby after two cone surgeries to remove cancer, to deliver, to breastfeed, to be sleepless in-love new parents. Giving birth is so dangerous for them both but it isn’t cancer.

I resist the fermentation of fear.

Melissa Leto is a writer from New York who now lives near the Beeline Highway and Salt River. She holds an MFA from Northern Arizona University and her work has appeared in Four Chambers Press and Shrew Lit Magazine. Her narratives and poems distill her experiences of trauma, grief, and joy as well as they celebrate nature and queer love. She is an editor for Rinky Dink Press, a facilitator for Revisionary Arts, and writes for several local businesses committed to positive change in the communities they occupy.