Rhoni Blankenhorn

The Doors of Perception

This is an egg. This egg has a green shell with gold flecks, like some god sneezed on it. The shade, let's call it “spring anxiety dream,” contains all greens in the known universe. Green is a very emotional color, the way the wind is emotional. The thing about green is that you begin to forget about it as soon as you see it. And no one tells you about the wind, it's something you have to experience for yourself. The wind can make you feel as though you're out at the craggy edge of something when in fact you're just rushing down Houston Street on a Wednesday morning again. The sidewalk is flecked with gum, which is black. No one knows why. Maybe you pick up the phone, call someone who is dead but also very much alive in your mind, which is fine, because the phone is also up there, and the cherry blossoms exploding from the trees like hundreds of little orgasms turn their frilly eyes upon you. The conversation stays with you all day. You find yourself quoting things your mind-friend said, such as "you’re losing your illusions." The wind pulls petals off the trees, they catch in your hair. The petals become your hair and you become the flower, which is very odd, but not as odd as the egg, which is actually a hole that contains thought, desire, memory, shame, friendship, all kinds of abstract concepts. It's okay to think about eggs this way. The egg is very busy. It doesn't care.


I love like a dog who has an eager nose
and is dumb. I listen to sad songs and pop ballads.
When I open my eyes, I notice the quality of light,
how it cuts through the glass, hits the floor,
then my crumpled blanket.
The light's audacity fills me with ruin.
This morning, a cluster of flowers peeled open,
pink and starlike, dripping with nectar,
and I shoved my nose into them.
I have not yet come to understand my ghosts as dead.
I feel around me like a cloak
woven of their ghost-flesh, protecting me,
weighing me down. When I run along the river,
my ghosts fly alongside me like gulls.
"You’re ruining your knees!" they caw.
"Shut up ghosts," I caw back, very seriously,
as real birds dive for the silvery fish
that somehow manage to live in the Hudson.

Rhoni Blankenhorn is a Filipina American writer. Her first book of poetry, Rooms for the Dead and the Not Yet, won the 2024 Trio Award. A Sewanee Scholar, a Saltonstall Fellow, and a Tin House alum, her poems can be found or are forthcoming in Narrative, Beloit, RHINO, Adroit, and Pigeon Pages. Her work has received recognition from the Sarah Lawrence Poetry Festival, the Center for Book Arts, Adroit’s Djanikian Scholarship, and elsewhere.