When I lifted my shirt,
I had to summon a feeling
of armor. N pressed the needle
gently. The line down
my sternum where they a drew
a wrist, I could feel
in my bones. When E touched me,
it felt like they touched my bones.
I didn’t say this out loud.
The character on the show
has to turn their face away
to say what they feel.
What you feel is and isn’t
what you mean. The way C
folded their glasses
and set them on the pillow.
The word set. The word folded.
The thought of A asking
for more, a little gasp
as my hand folded deeper.
It felt good to feel the inside of
a person. I couldn’t imagine
how good. I couldn’t imagine
feeling. A gold cord.
A hoop of bright, stone
spears. I could be an I
at the center of a ring
of names. I could feel
I could do better
and I could do better. I took
the tomatoes and forgot them
till fruit flies flew from
the knotted bag. I had stopped
saying my heart, my heart,
like it was a little animal.
I put a peach
in my mouth. I gave up
the dream of pleasure for which
I had rearranged the room.
I didn’t want flowers
or a beautiful meal. I clipped
my hoop earrings together
so I would lose both or none.
Probably, I had forgotten
something on the road,
but had forgotten
what it was. Beauty leaked,
from its wet center.
I could shear a piece
of paper in two. I could let A
tie my hands together.
That kind of pain. What
ruin means. Irreparable
harm, and that which
survives. The tombstones
fallen in the leaves.
from a small grave. I couldn’t
decide if I didn’t believe in
ruin or if I closed a door
to refuse its terror.
The night’s edge
bled at the mouth.
A wet nest. A skin suit
unzipped to reveal
In the trees we talk about historical women
who loved each other and were married to men.
I mean to say something like
life inside constraints is still life.
We watch a snapping turtle knock a smaller turtle off a log.
We used to be in love, and I love you
better now that we aren’t.
Snakeheads, you tell me, have invaded the lake.
They eat too much, I guess, the wrong things.
An orange goldfish swims by, abandoned here or flushed.
My friend’s husband tells me their backyard
has been designated a bird sanctuary.
It’s just a square plot of grass with tall sunflowers.
Life on earth is about applying pressure
without understanding what it might do.
I wouldn’t take it back, someone at the party explains,
my traumatic religious upbringing.
Nothing would have made it easier for me
to arrive here, I believe now mostly,
aside from abandoning the belief
that something would have made it easier
for me to arrive here. I do want my friend to find
a place to sleep for longer than a few weeks.
I do want to put flowers in the mouths
of everyone I love and call it art.
I receive a midnight visitor and taste
apples on their tongue till I can’t feel anything.
I let someone else make me biscuits while I sleep.
Capitalism, the poet says, is the main impediment.
It could and couldn’t be easier to survive.
The snakeheads hid when the rangers
drained the lake to try to round them up.
Some life persists, greenly, without menace.
It is or isn’t called life, or real.
The arc is or isn’t towards anything like
freedom, or arrival, or certainty, or truth,
or beauty, or property, or accomplishment,
or a yard with flowers in it, or one’s one true love.
Nothing changed and everything changed.
I knew who I was, and then I didn’t, and then I did,
which meant I wouldn’t, and then I would.
I thought the poet was going to be dull
and pretentious but his lines made me laugh,
and three mice like circus animals
scurrying in the corner made me laugh,
and the image of my friend cowering
on a picnic table while cicadas wriggled up
from the ground made me laugh,
and discussing meaninglessness over one beer
while gazing at another friend’s
electric orange eyeshadow made me laugh.
Nothing matters, I keep saying, to everyone
when they ask how I am, which I say
to mean I’m doing fine. The end
of the movie where we watch a woman sob,
and then laugh, and then sob again,
is perfect, we decide. It’s perfect. The end.
Whether or not she drifted
Farther away / feeling ruin eclipse
The old fortunes / therapeutic habits
I could stuff a bright ruined girl inside me
What I love is unabashed blood / blood dabbed on
The tips of my fingers
The bloody machine I harbor
She bleats weakly / I picture her
A muscle streaked pink / slick and taut
No one as interested in me in
How the cervix slides up /
Could this be why belief in unseen prisms of power
The god who sounds like a woman filling
The girls drinking a cup of blood
God covering a bloody girl with force
Blood from the first scene to the last
The women describe not caring anymore about
What they say / being pounded
Or having hair pulled
I lean in to your fingers as though
I hadn't before been touched
Feel after coming like I could
Be tossed out in rough sea
Everywhere, caves, like a sapphic joke
Carved rock / the ledge where
You could leap off / drown
My medicated cunt / salty and wet
Whether desire, a mechanical urge to
As though never before picturing
The froth of myself in two directions at once
I don't know / to be as ambitious as a wet rose
Dead already / on a clipped stem