I feel like Eve on the verge of sin.
I will lie between your legs before you know
that you are naked. Here, taste this apple,
give me your hands. Can't you hear the bells?
Behind the flames we'll feel safe. Watch the sky
singe purple, the lingering dusk
illuminating candles in each window.
Speed up the celestial show―I've got stars
falling from my fingertips, dangling off my ears.
Tonight is our longest dance with the moon.
Come to me, barefoot and pagan,
let me show you the clockwise spin,
how I live with my back to the sun.
I made you a sandwich―peanut butter and courage
on wheat―tucked it in a lunchbox and kissed you
goodbye. But you came back for a little more
and for weeks we sat on the curb together,
tapping boxes of Camels against the cement,
sipping Coca-Colas. No one here will speak of war,
or admit to it. No one here has lost anything
in the battle, it seems.
But you have bruises so ringed in light, they're angelic,
singing hymns from your shoulders, elbows cocked
at broken angles, pained, heroic.
This time I pack revolution with the grapes;
I've got you brushing off the black and blue,
that morbid chirping in your ear. Jesus,
we're not dead yet, condemned to philosophy
in some hotel bar. It's midnight, a little late for security,
but I'll give you all I've got of it. The key
to the safe deposit, the footstep on the stair.
Even the polished stones at the shore
stick to my tongue, though I'm told rolling them
quenches thirst. The truth is, I'm parched
and blame you. I feel tentacles in everyone;
I look in everyone's eyes like I'm stung.
I kissed a friend outside the supermarket,
and he said I had the softest lips.
You used to call them pillowish. But I'll swear
I'm not thinking of you, because once,
a lover took me to the ocean and hunted
anemones while I chased fiddler crabs into holes.
I kissed him too.
Maybe he's the one I'm thinking of: those lips―
and the postcards we sent to my girl friends
who rub mirrors after hot showers,
blinking at the woman blinking back.
A study in the nude. Consequence of flaws.
Oh yes, these women are luminous,
but everyone knows that's conditional.
Don't equivocate with me, I told myself,
I know exactly what I don't want: to lie
under the rug at parties or ever wear
sensible shoes. To love short pants
with inappropriate prints. I'm convinced
my own toes were the happy ending
after I went tracing the tattoos that spiraled
up his arms and found out home is an elusive place―
just somewhere that fits my key. That night
I decided to stop dying; the breeze woke me
with its thick cow smell, and I followed it to the water.
My body broke open, an owl egg cracking into life.
I knew I'd never again stand in the shower
with all my clothes on, never again say:
Lord, I don't have the energy to move.
And in the third year, we discovered language
was an island native to your tongue. I did not
belong inside your mouth, could not walk past
your teeth―however imperfect the ivory,
it was still a tower. As your lips opened,
I glimpsed the future:
Neon marshlands swollen under the bridge.
All the turtles toxic as they cross the street.
When cars roll past and split the shells,
bright blood spills onto the pavement. Even
all these years from now, I move into your arms,
never having learned to speak, never having needed to.
-all poems previously published at Wicked Alice