Isaac Pickell :: “The scientific name for someone I used to know”

I write to your memory from the peak
of a warm summer rainstorm that soaks
the day, making it gloomy yet somehow 
becoming, like the chorus of a broken

social scene song. It’s really coming down,
from bright grey skies that hide the high
noon sun, so hard it might flood the great big
pots we leave on the back deck. So I brave 

the rain to check on them, and that’s when I see
something that sounds your traces in the back of
my head: I want to write a poem, but I can’t think
of any pretty ways to say the puckering at the heart 

of my split-leaf philodendron reminds me of you.
I was always too inexperienced to transform
obscenity into something beautiful, but at least 
you had plants like we do now, or at least 

that’s how my reminiscence colors your space: towering 
ferns that almost looked fake, mighty tropical
leaves I didn’t know the name for yet. 
                                                                              Only this,

it’s silly, writing to someone I never really
cared for and hold onto through nothing 
but instagram stories and suggestive leaves, 
someone I wouldn’t offer a slice of my life 

today: you’re a tired resonance and the thing is, 
we are really happy, most days, and most of 
the plants remind me of her, anyway—even
the comedy of human devotion can stand up

against worn longing, against the way plants, 
like smell, can threaten to bring you back, the way 
my mother still talks about the hard wood of her 
childhood horse chestnut tree. Like wisp or tendril, 

there are old, florid words that could end this poem 
comely, but you’re just a technicality of the past, a body
of knowledge, a proper science. So let’s leave it at that:
Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum, even if it sounds ugly.


Isaac Pickell is a poet, PhD candidate, and adjunct instructor in Detroit. He is the author of everything saved will be last (Black Lawrence Press, 2021) and It’s not over once you figure it out (Black Ocean, 2023), and his most recent work can be found at Brevity, Copper Nickel, and Sundog Lit. Isaac’s taken a seat in all fifty states and has so much to look forward to.