Gifts I Did Not Want
Lexi Pelle

A violet velvet robe
embroidered with

hundreds of lilting
LOLs. A self-help

book I didn’t ask
for, but received

three copies.
A shoulder kiss.

A mist that stank
through the wrapping

and strangled
the rest of Christmas

with cinnamon—
I did it,

I touched
that third grader

he said as we
scraped plastic spoons

against the scraps
in our yogurt cups

at the school
for troubled teens.

That’s what my father
called it. Cassie

called it the island
of misfit boys,

though we were there.
Eating Disorders,

cutters, druggies,

he didn’t fit in,
and when the staff

knocked into his
lunch tray or

stepped hard
on his sneakers,

I said nothing.

an animal shelter site says.

My mother used
to gift wrap empty

boxes and leave
them on the sill

as decoration.
Does it matter

what happened
to him? What’s inside

the box didn’t
bite my hand.

Still I abandoned it.
Lexi Pelle was the winner of the 2022 Jack McCarthy Book prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, Ninth Letter, One Art, Abandon Journal, and 3Elements Review. Her debut book, Let Go With The Lights On, will be released in May.


©2023 Volume Poetry
Join our mailing list:

Follow us on instagram.
Submit your work to Volume:

Site design by Nick Fogarty