Fiona Ashton-Knochel

Fiona is a first-year Environmental Studies major who enjoys nature and animals, but she always asks her girlfriend to get rid of any bugs that might have crawled in the window. She likes dogs more than people, makes plenty of puns, and tracks down secret bunkers.

Don’t Breathe In

Mexico City in the morning 
Is a pot of thickly simmering soup. Inhale, and you’ll Cough on pink medicine 
that’s been sitting, slouching, slimy for eons. Murky, murky, murky 
(Inside the pit of the obtuse neon sun.) 
Don’t Breathe In.

Mexico City in the afternoon 
Is a cat whose hair falls out. Inhale, and you’ll Choke on itchy dust bunnies 
who scurry atop the stale, dense air. 
Dusty, dusty, dusty 
(Within the shade of the drafty city alleys.) Don’t Breathe In. 

Mexico City at nighttime 
Is a lovely velvet dome—tread lightly. Inhale, and you’ll Cry—either because your eyes dried out 
or because your family is long gone. 
Quiet, quiet, quiet 
(Underneath the swirling Van Gogh sky) But Don’t Breathe In.

The Girl I Loved

It’s nothing new.
 
When her father died, she scratched the pain in her jaw and tripped clumsily over a transparent euphemism on the side of the road.
(Sophomore year, we were either sad or happy and nobody was in between) 

We met on the fourth minute of the third day of the second year of high school. 
(Sophomore year, kids were startled, straining their greasy-black eyes to see grey whiteboards) 

Our diffidence and insecurity fueled a dubious introduction. 
(Sophomore year, boys who drank Pilsner wrote slurs on their shoes and drove to parties where they waited for something to happen) 

At first, our strong suit was small talk — our hearts trickled disjointed language. 
(Sophomore year, trees in the jungle of conversation sprouted mango flowers the color of mumbling) 

Later, her vocabulary freed extraordinary ideas trapped within her galactic mind, and schemes trudged from her bitter lips.
(Sophomore year, girls licked metaphors with their distended tongues) 

She asked with hesitation whether I liked her, and I sensed her anticipation; the tip of her tongue rested lightly on her palate.
(Sophomore year, when kids were too afraid to say they were gay, she kissed me in the hall) 

It’s nothing to know I was new to all this. 
(Sophomore year, we crunched communication between our tic-tac teeth and practiced four-square breathing exercises for five minutes a day) 

It’s nothing to know I was new to all this. 
(It’s nothing)