I want to turn the inside of your mouth into an altar
so that I can kneel before you and offer nothing but
and my bruised ribs
with the hope that maybe
you’ll give me the salvation I have been looking for.
He was right;
The sweetest romance -
the most engaging
the most enduring
is with Unreality
twisting, teasing, drifting.
Never sleeps in its marriage bed
only makes and unmakes it
perfecting the creases
into a topography of intricately detailed
and meticulous chaos,
The absolute peak of metonymy
synesthesia-fed spark; we delight in it
though we don’t understand
or, perhaps, because.
I did not write to you
though my insides were on fire
and the words hung on my tongue
but just know you were my favorite downfall—
the words inscribed between my ribs and the
promises I kept under my pillowcase.
I didn’t know you were gone
until I had lost you—
though this always how things go.
the taste of your skin
raw with everything you had to give
raw with everything I didn’t
you staring back at me
trying to find what you once felt
felt it all.
We never even
You left mom downstairs
yelling at the walls about arrested development
dad with words of disappointment
spilling from his mouth and tangling
in his beard like shipwrecks.
It was funny at first—
the manner in which drunken bodies
trip up stairs like marionettes
and those inebriated conversations you were always on the verge of
having with me; why you come home Saturday nights
smelling like stale cigarettes and too much Old Spice.
You stumbled into your room and I stood
in your doorway like obsidian, mute
and strangled with sober resignation.
There were mandarin peels on your desk
lying upwards like stale crescent moons and
we were children again in rainy Belgium
boosted to the kitchen counter
grinding orange halves against the juicer
our sticky hands blueprinted with hard work.
A dog howled somewhere and you started to as well
as I searched your face for the six year old who
cried on the first day of kindergarten
and the nine year old who stole his first kiss from a girl who
said she loved him because he taught her how to play dominos
but all I found was the fourteen year old
pushing past me for the bathroom
and I only wished for this world to be clear as water
so that I could teach you how to drink from it.
Under a canopy of candlelight I sit on
his barstool, nude.
I seesaw my bottom on the wooden stool,
feel my tailbone bump
against the chair.
I am naked
in case he finds me,
in case he finds me and sees that I am graying,
face down like a drooping sunflower.
I sit at the piano,
feel the keys against my breasts,
cold and hard like his face when he finds me here,
carving stripes in my skin.
or try to,
with my feet stuck in his suitcase,
but he lies with me on the ground like
when we were teenagers.
Spine against marble
legs against oak
lips against air
lips against lips against hips to hips to breasts like
paper bags or small potatoes.
Lying in him,
dancing together along the ground
shimmying our weight together
bodies dropped to the ground
lying there like the alphabet
lying there like blue pinstripe pants
lying there until we can catch our breath.
We have forgotten everything but bodies,
how slippery sultry they are when we put them together.
I whisper my name because he has no idea who I am,
no idea at all,
except a naked woman on his barstool
shrugging down his tequila like it’s passion
and feeling my legs jiggle like dirt along a highway.
When I looked into her eyes
I could understand why early explorers
thought the world was flat
because the eyes of the one you love
are supposed to hold the world
and all I ever saw was the drop-off at the end of the sea.
She had eyes that could stare off
into the distance; unseeing but also
unthinking, blank, the color of slate:
pretty from a distance, upsetting to
mid-range; non-existent close up
like the ocean drowning itself; closing in on disappearing ground.
She’d lie there, with her tabula rasa eyes
locked somewhere in the mid-ground
and I’d warily watch the pelicans—
those untrustworthy birds who fly for decades
and never reach you until your guard drops
then arch their tattered bodies and break back into reality
and bring with them death
to her stony gaze and my stuttering fingers
drifting across her back, like cold ocean froth
against the grinding shells
or the air
through a pelican’s wings.
Wrong Again, Pythagoras