Our heart survives between
hammers, just as the tongue between
the teeth is still able to praise.
This is what it feels like to split the shell of a woman.
Shards of her everywhere. Animal light spread across
the walls. For a second, I feel like a boy entering
a woman for the first time. My skin shivering as if pulled
from the banks of a river. Clothes shapeless on the floor. When she moves
beneath me, I wonder how someone could enter her like a hook
thick as ropes. Tear her into two. And he comes to me as if I’ve closed my eyes.
The braided scar above his lip. The clench
of teeth on my ear. Like this, he says, showing me how to peel her back
like husks. Like this.
I go everywhere and want to be kissed.
What does it say about me that I change my
perfume every time I get a new boyfriend?
Lately I walk to places with headphones on
and let myself be sad when the music says
I should be. I’ve become cliche: Drinking lattes
and posting pictures of the food I don’t even
eat online. I get excited over everyone else’s
excitement. I do the things single girls can
get away with, like letting him stick his hand
up my skirt and search until I say yes, until I say
don’t stop, until I am breathing in so deeply
that his hair gets stuck in my throat. I have sex
in public restrooms and watch myself in the mirror.
His hand on my ass. His mouth on my shoulder.
I cannot write a better poem than this.
All night I stretched my arms across
him, rivers of blood, the dark woods, singing
with all my skin and bone, ‘Please keep him safe.
Let him lay his head on my chest and we will be
like sailors, swimming in the sound of it, dashed
to pieces.’ Makes a cathedral, him pressing against
me, his lips at my neck, and yes, I do believe
his mouth is heaven, his kisses falling over me like stars.
Let us no longer wake up
sweating in a summer bed.
Let us never eat grapefruits
from each other’s laps.
Let us stray quickly
into this Garden of Sleeping Alone.
This Garden of Heartache has found itself
a labyrinth inside me.
Let this be easy.
Let this be the last time
my heart is wrong.
Let his hands not surrender
up my thighs. Let him not
unwrap me. Let him
not find in me a new body
again and again.
Let him not love me.
Let it not be so.
Touch me. Soft eyes. Soft soft soft hand. I am lonely here. Sad too. Touch, touch me.
… our breath wells up like the rush
of sadness or longing we sometimes feel
without remembering the cause of it.
The absolute moment gathers the surge
and muscle of the past, complete,
yet hurling itself forward—arrested
here between its birth and perishing.