Like Balthazar I am kicking up rocks,
Trying to sprout wings and fly
To outer space and touch my face to fire and
Kiss the cheeks of a baby, a
Little tiny thing —
Unable to ask for anything it needs
Only wail from an empty mouth, a
Gaping hole in the space between
Me, the Savior, the god I prayed to on the stepping stones of
My childhood yard
Hoping with dimpled fingers that the flames of hell
Would not lick my feet before I could run, a
Prayer for softness and safety and
The burn of wind against my cheeks, the
Crackle of dust beneath my feet as I go to meet my maker.
you ate nothing but watermelon all summer. when i hugged you i felt the fine bones of your ribcage against my stomach and i thought of hugging my grandmother when she was soft and light before her death, my shaking hands and her funeral, my grandfather’s heaving spine through his gauzy suit, and the featherweight point of his elbows on my shoulders. and i was surprised to learn that grief felt weightless
in bed dusk purple
chocolate in my teeth
sweetness gathered in the corners of my mouth blankets bundled under my chin and between my fingers heart beats slowly cheeks rosy head woozy flushed with swirly synthpop visions of the day fade into
snail breaths palms open blankets slide away
sunlight needles sharp stinging in my swollen eyes i taste stale thick spit sticky on the roof of my mouth i unglue my tongue and search for water.
the night was wet and seeping into our shoes and shining in our eyes
you cupped my face and called me a woman
and i blinked through the fog at the desperation between your brows and could not move my mouth
i dream of stiff peaks of neosporin sprouting from my middle finger gingerly rubbing i swallow recommended doses i even bite my nails collect the clippings
(i wish an extra limb would sprout from my chest so that i could hack it off)
house keys tied to your swimsuit you squish
into the mud imagining rough kernels of sand between your toes but your sandals are stiff and
this is not the beach
you jingle when you walk and everyone hears you before they see you your cheshire boom and i have
rocks in my shoes
i hate you but i cry with joy at the sight of you
your flat planes and still waters your
furious heat filling my cheeks with blossoming blemishes glistening sweat
i shrivel like a salted slug when you embrace me
i come home to
my childhood bedroom rotting my dirty clothes in tangled piles still packed
i feel soft examining the shed skin of my last self baking in the summer heat
i see myself, four in overalls and where others see a child i see
the shape of my head in my mind
makes me gag, opens a cavern in which i’m trapped i stare at myself with flashlight eyes
i can see all all all layers of bulbous flesh pull it back and it’s moldy
slime seeps out from underneath me i watch it pool on my skin, i’m magnified, i’m in the mirror grows closer closer closer i’m eleven i’m bleeding i’m frozen over a fist full of tissues in the stall has eyes that watch me drip drip drip the rubber slap of tennis shoes are vibrating around me i can see my skin shaking
my fingers curl into warped shorts, barely fit, leggings underneath puckering over my new new new
hips am i really
a baby? i’m too tall to cry i’m fifteen i’m spinning in the microwave i can see my
teeth from here i’m twenty i’m stretching i think but my hands hit
the walls are slick i cannot whine anymore i lie awake thinking about the way my mouth must move when i open it to cry to speak
about my brain my body i want to burst to be free of my my my body in my brain
you pulled a tick off my chest in Sochi. i was an easy target when i tripped and fell into the flowers at the arboretum. you said it looked like i was falling in slow motion and i crushed the flowers and i picked up a tick— and then we shared an ice cream and i shared my body.
i didn’t even know what a tick looked like but it sucked on me desperate as you yanked it from my skin and you examined it squeezed between your fingers and i considered that i had never seen a tick when it wasn’t swollen and filled with blood.
i started wailing and you were silent and you looked at me like, it’s okay. it’s just a tick. it died instantly. and one of your hands was at the base of my neck and the other was squeezing the tick, and i wondered what blood you were filled with.
for days i could feel the pinch of the place where the tick had been, pressed my finger to it to remember how close it had come to sucking me dry leaving me weak with a target on my chest or my brain swimming in fluid, or paralyzed, and i wondered would you recognize me then? and my heart felt like it was swelling up.
i’d dream but nightmares
before i’d wake without you:
a bird’s eye, swollen.
i found you laying somewhere in middle earth, caledonia
your body, peacefully heaving under a layer of earth and open flowers.
as a honeybee, i approached you languidly humming and buried my face, smearing my mouth with sweet golden dust.
growing claws i burrowed deep under your skin, pushing my way through your dark earth, digging tunnels and learning the breathing paths by heart.
i crawl through you carefully with resting wings,
curled claws, knowing that if i scratch or sting,
you’ll tear me apart.
last night i crouched over a toilet in freefall
this morning i rubbed neosporin all over my body to disinfect myself from who i was
i tore my breakfast into small pieces and tucked them into the folds in my stomach and the gaps in my teeth and the corners of my eyes
you are as moses was
with raised arms splayed sinewy fingers
building a churning turbulent
wall of water in my throat
drowning my heart and filling me with foam
washing my eyes with tears
she ate a handful of almonds all day and did Not have clean hair and her eyeliner bunched up under her eyes before noon but she was all dimples and laugh lines tongue out eyes squeezed
how to become more forgetful
how to miss more deadlines
how to eat less
how to sleep longer hours
how to abuse more substances
my little tinkerer knees to chin
wizard of odds, green darling
sprouting from wires and flashing lights, bright, no fear of rooftops or underbeds
the clamor in my ears keeping my eyes wide open staring into your breathing world, growing and expanding and engulfing mine all fingertips and crashing keys and swirling wind and your hair in my mouth
we are dripping; moving fast
i hear your sounds when you’re far away in the hum of radiators and the buzz of twilight and in the breathy laughter of strangers and i think of you emerging from behind your curtain all bloomed squeaky and new think of wrapping you up and breathing your breath to hear everything