Erica Abbott


(an Ekphrastic poem after N. Taylor Collins’ “Every Beginning”)

There are approximately
one million words
in the English language.
Of these, only two
are needed to make one
of the shortest complete sentences:
I am.
As in—I am in love with you.

“Love” is a
six-letter word because
how could it ever be spelled
without “u” and “i”?
(you make those sickly-sweet
musings blossom).

Yesterday, I saw a man run
into the train station
right up to the wall with the
color-coded maps and I
thought how I’d do the same
if it could lead me straight to you.

Have you ever thought about the
soft beauty of sheet music?
How—even if it’s torn to shreds—
fingers can still make beautiful
sounds out of what’s still there.
May we do the same
even if we’re broken.

In the back of a drawer, I found
dozens of pressed peonies, five puzzle pieces,
and one long piece of red thread—
gathered them up in the hopes
they’d bring us back together again.

All of this which is to say simply
every letter, every syllable,
and every thought belonged
to you before we had even
exchanged words.


Erica Abbott (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based poet and writer. She has been writing for over 15 years and her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Toho, perhappened, Bandit Fiction, and other journals. She is the author of Self-Portrait as a Sinking Ship (Toho 2020), her debut poetry chapbook. She volunteers for Button Poetry and Mad Poets Society. Follow her on Instagram @poetry_erica and on Twitter @erica_abbott.