» Nonfiction


…originally published in 40.2 of The Florida Review.


In Italo Calvino’s version, the world began at one point, and Mrs. Ph(i)Nk_0—with all of her love, she made noodles for the boys—and then, like that, stars appeared. Land, the moon. Ocean waves, curling and releasing. Doves. Palms.


In my version, I am not as pivotal as Mrs. Ph(i)Nk_0, and I may never be, but I made noodles for the ones I loved: The woman I was dating, and the man who asked me, softly—“Can you teach me how to put on makeup?” And I said, without hesitation, “Yes,” and the woman I loved—she helped, too. I remember this: We went to the drug store, and I pretended the makeup was for me. He chose red, plum—the colors of autumn. And then we drove to my rental room, and Douglas sat on my bed, and Anna did too. I made spaghetti. We opened tubes of lipstick, palettes of eye shadow.


In the time it took for a woman’s love to become the land, tell me—did the sky stretch and open? Did the boys press their hand­s to its boundary, cupping each burning star? I’ll never fully understand the journey from one point to many, but I can tell you this: Every day we create worlds.


And in my rental room, on my bed, Douglas and Anna and I—we navigated a world that felt new, its boundary moving outward like a wing, or like oak leaves fading, then deepening, into umber.


If nourishment is the link between our true selves and the stars, then I wonder what can ever be their undoing. Bullets, golden and sparkling. A false map that says: Love is not love is not love.


The night of the massacre, music played, humans kissed. Queer humans. It was Latin night. Douglas, Anna and I stayed home.


With one bullet, the land and sky caved in.


And another, and another.


This is not the story of finding oneself. This is the story of how the universe became one stone.


Sometimes poetry is not enough to bring us comfort.


Sometimes, not even the language of the human heart can cup autumn’s colors, hold them dear in their becoming.


Sometimes we tell stories of love, of how one kiss can fill a soul with abundance.


Sometimes we go to sleep, and when we wake up—so much has vanished.


Ashley Inguanta

Ashely Inguanta received her BA and MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. She is Staff Editor, Art Director, and Art Interview Editor for SmokeLong Quarterly. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in such publications as The Rumpus, Bartleby Snopes, Adrienne: A Poetry Journal of Queer Women, The Good Men Project, PANK, Wigleaf, Gone Lawn, Pindeldyboz, Elephant Journal, Breadcrumb Scabs, and Sweet: A Literary Confection. She is also the recipient of many honors, including Pushcart nominations (for her work in Ampersand and OCHO), an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train's Very Short Fiction contest, and Best Poet in Orlando award from The Orlando Weekly in 2017. Her photography has appeared in Adrienne: A Poetry Journal of Queer Women, OCHO, make/shift magazine, Corium, and The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review.