nesting

i build him a nest beneath my diaphragm:
collected bits of gum wrapper, dark hairs,
unraveled thread, abandoned earring backs
for months, flooded my pockets with
the folded corners of strangers’ lives
and then swallowed them,
prayed they’d arrange themselves inside me.

when i told him i found a place he could sleep,
he was eager until discovery:
i’d have to swallow him, too.
i promised to take him with a cool glass of water,
swore i’d never dream of using my teeth.

A Portrait

She cooks dinner with Anderson Cooper,
tossing her vegetables in olive oil –
two slow twists of the pepper grinder.
when he pauses to smile, she asks
whether he’s eaten yet, imagines her
hands like crumpled paper serving him
forkfuls of overcooked salmon.

Four ounces of measured red wine
cools a clunky crystal cup,
mouth like a crack in her face
splitting to sip the eight dollar bottle.

After, she welcomes Don Lemon
into her home. Greets him the way
she never gets to greet her children.
Maybe she shifts her body to keep her eyes
in line with his, the closest thing to sex since 1994.
Maybe she stands up, puts her fingers
against his fuzzy television face, the length
between two knuckles, and asks
if he’d care for some dessert.

(jealousy)

i imagine the south carolina girls,
their faces cracking like august earth.
veins of sweat roll from their hairlines,
flooding away: asphalt grit, foundation
from bottles and buildings, silky spider-web spit
hung in strings.
i want to grind their bodies
against a washboard, pinch their shoulders tight
with clothespins, ask them
how they feel about doing “women’s work.”

spring cleaning

it was the winter of sex and tomato soup:
the only two things a good body needs
to remember how to wake up each day.

the soup was watery and hot, burned
the tongue to rawness, softness
in preparation for its other pastime.

there were fewer men than months,
but not by a lot. tomatoes are a spring fruit.
eat one from a neighbors garden,

sprinkle with salt. throw away the uneaten
cans of soup. vow to never go back.

it starts at the elbows

the skin at her elbows was so thin
i thought it might split
the pressure from her insides all at once too much
for the flesh her body forgot to build.
her thighs and forearms
are shaped like the bones they hold.

the amount of wrong toned concealer
blotched like drying acrylic
across her cheeks –
but the green-hued bruises on her throat
dappled across the lump resting
between collarbones. It is hard to distinguish
marks by mouths from fingers.

her hair is twisted, tucked, fluffed
white at the roots, hairspray held too close.
I wonder if it has already begun to fall out –
each strand jumping like the crew
of a burning ship.