I always thought the word asphyxiation
sounded like the name of a really big flower,
something between an orchid and an aster,
but black, and possibly rubber or plastic,
the kind you give as a joke to an artist
who uses it in a daring collage,
making the joke unexpectedly lovely,
and you have to see it each time you stop by
to drink two-buck chuck and maybe undress her,
and sometimes you think the word over and over
to distract yourself: as-phyx-i-a-tion,
and sometimes the syllables are pulled loose
and yoked together again, though never
quite like a noose would be on your neck.
Olga Moskvina was born in Russia, in a city whose name does not sound like her last name. She received her MFA from the University of California, Irvine, where she currently lectures. She lives in a little house in Los Angeles and keeps many imaginary plants.