Ocean big as her thighs. Ocean big as her name.
There’s this new fad where everyone wants to be with God and I don’t mean in His soul or whatever but actually Be With Him. Widows are leaving their homes. College girls spend too long in old men bars. My dog was even staring up at a church, pulling against her leash to get in. There’s just something sexy about knowing. Like, shit, maybe we are His kids or whatever but it would be nice to be kissed by a mouth that knew what it was doing. I just want to be taken care of anyway. Swaddled. Coddled. Held like a baby sparrow, like a goldfish out of water for a couple moments. We’re all waiting somewhere.
But who had the broken fingers, wrists blue and purple like flower in a picture book? Pepper jars and turpentine and pillars of salt, scattered stems in the bathtub, burning on the stove. Leanne, legs long as that journey west, and the horrible fairy tales about children drowning in the river two miles east, and black burnt suns in the couch, and the walls grow tighter like a horror movie or a booby trap. In Egypt, they call this love.
God keeps a bottle of Advil in his glove compartment. Just in case, ya know. Long car rides. Would be shit to have a migraine. He goes down a side road to avoid traffic. It’s morning. No, night. He’s sexier than you expected. But not like movie star sexy. Or high school quarterback sexy. He’s more like Hot Dad. It’s weird. You pull your skirt down. Adjust your seatbelt. The light bends around him, drips from the window to your thighs. He’s not going to ask you how your night went or if your life is okay or if you can redeem your one fairy tale wish. He’s looking straight into the night, hand tapping on the car door. The stars are winking. He stops at the light, and you wonder if he’s going to kiss you.
Poem for boy with all his baby teeth in a ring box under his bed. Poem for boy with bee stingers in his palm, for broken neck birds, too many pink scars on his shoulders. Poem for boy nailing our scarecrow to the tree out back. Poem for boy, bloodless hands, dead father, weighed down branches, steady. Poem for riverbank eulogy, poem for the house on fire, for the empty bedrooms, for the baby teeth, for his scratched out face, for the wheat I pulled to make that scarecrow whole. Poem for boy, for husk, for knotted rope, and a white bird, all quiet, all burned.
God called me Fish Heart. Lily Mouth. I was an evening sort of girl. He liked me better ripped up, bar bathrooms, bar peanuts, skip the small talk. We’re both Adam. We’re both Eve. In the mornings, swallowing bait, swallowing nails, pulling apart the microwave, two forks and an empty socket. Baby, there is always a limit. Hours spent rubbing my belly, waiting for watermelon trees, or orange bushes, or flowers heavy with green apples. And now, this is what I can dissect: his fingers in the gut of the fish, his fingers in the core of the flower, always pulling. Like it wasn’t enough to feel, like He had to see, to know.
poem for syrup dreams, brush fire smoke, the forest gutted, two miles westward. poem for pink tongues and the broken headboard and how you slept in jeans nights we got home late and scared, our knuckles bruised, noses bleeding. poem for glasses off, blind. poem for cups of sugar on the front porch, salt in our bed. poem for empty fridge, empty pockets, all the vases broken, flowers peeking through. empty bowls of porridge, this house too big for the both of us. poem for my name, rebirth, and how you look at me in the dark, our silhouettes the lightest parts of us.
jesus called he said he’s sick / of the distance
sunday afternoons at the theater, passing bags of pills like licorice sticks, kissing roach faced ushers and watching the moon lay her thigh, her palm across the man in the back seat. i told him to stop bitching, just enjoy crescent while she lasts, and he opened his mouth, let a hundred thousand moths fly out, i said god dammit, and maybe two vultures, maybe a dove. i said wait, he blinked. i said lung or liver or kidney stone, he licked the side of my face, pushed crescent to the floor. now, twelve trailers, a reprise.
After Kristina Hayes
In the mornings, mouthing prayers,
picking up the pants and collared shirts
of boys who won’t stay. Boys who will
drink my coffee, shower quickly, kiss
me lightly, and leave the wrong phone
number on a scrap of paper in the kitchen.
They’ll be off by a number or two, guilt
like a brick in their stomachs. They’ll take
the stairs, recycle, put a dollar in a homeless
man’s cup. Later, I’ll take cabs to made-up
addresses, cut my palm in the backseat,
bleed on fake leather. When they find
my number in their pants pockets, they’ll
crumple the paper, turn on the news.