February Twenty-Sixth

Lindsay is leaning against the sealed door of the pantry, black pants and a red sweater. Her eyes are shut, head down, and her arms are pressed in a delicate cross over her stomach. I can’t tell what, but she’s got something in her hands. I’m across the table, reading to her about mat-making, runes and men, the world that summer, cripple nations, boys in grocery bags spread across fifty states. Beautiful faces. With every punctuation mark, I glance up to trace the minute parting of her pink lips across the doorway, beaded bracelets falling over her shifting knuckles. Body and soul, I give to you.

I used to think we understood each other because we both wanted to die and could talk about it for a long time. I used to think I was your friend because I described to you once what it’s like to jump off a bridge into open water, organ liquid and the dull green sound of impact. You know names and sizes and prescription refills. You know who hates who and how to sleep with a pillow over your face, ligaments tightening, while the baby cries in the other room and the sink drips down the hall. I imagine you think it’s a privilege that I haven’t done anything and that I’ve told you why. I imagine you’re happy about it.

Last time: Sitting with you at the head of a black spiral staircase, glaring down at all the anonymous bodies shuffling underfoot. I can’t imagine where they’re all going. Your hair falls warm wet water over my shoulder and I turn towards the spot I imagine your eyes might be. My chin rests over yours. I’ll watch it pass us by.

I’m down and out on the wooden floor, my arms tied in a neat square knot over my head. You’re sitting up perpendicular in an easy chair, dividing your time between your phone and pointed toe kicks gentle into my throat to make sure I’m still breathing. I cough awake, look up and feel for blood, rifling tight skin over my jagged shape. My body and yours are stuck tight in a cartesian normal, carefully pulled into rational arrangement, and I’m happy to be locked open and useful on the floor for you, ugly over the splitting planks. Suture seam sex goddess, rough hands and soft words, held together by oblong lace hovering twopiece over black and white canvas sneakers, stained in places by spit and stretched lips. Underneath their surface are thin tectonic layers of sticky black ankle socks peeling closed in shaking shapes dangling over my face. You lean down from yourself and take a close look through crossed legs at my pale chest as it inflates empty a few times before fluttering out. You smile. The joints in my sternum crack and scatter out next to me on the floor.

He had trouble masturbating in the field. He couldn’t keep it hard for very long and he kept losing track of time. He spit in the grass and went home. He said he didn’t like the weather.

You pull your right leg up parallel to the edge of your seat and pinch one aglet between your left ring finger and thumb, pulling straight up until a pointed end hangs next to your ear and below your open lips. You curl your toes to loosen the grip of one tongue and watch as another starts to slow leak and change shape underneath you. Then with both hands you start to peel the two halves open like the hard skin of an exotic fruit, tearing and pulling until finally the heel falls loose and the shoe hangs on by a lonely pointed thread. You tease the hanging weight over my nose, wide grim splitting throat, before dropping it in a dull heap to my right. I turn my head and crawl with my jaw towards it, melting into the damp opening, but you snap your fingers and point down at your lap. I roll over and collapse into my old shadow, four eyes tracing up to measure you out against the round windowsill light.