2 pm

the day appeared as if we hadn’t been waiting.
he covers my body in sheets like a corpse,
but he is the one who is sick.
together we touch the soft mounds under his scalp,
finger the swollen lymph nodes beneath his jaw.
i kiss just below the ridge of his collar bone
and do not mention what i feel beneath my mouth.

i ask him again about the appointment time.
he lies and says he cannot remember.

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when to start worrying

the lumps first appear on his scalp,
red spots that feel like a blueberry
got stuck beneath his skin.
I pushed them, imagined berries bursting –
no such luck. the next morning they feel
like frozen grapes, have begun to creed
down his neck. I want to soak them under
hot towels, prod with sewing needles,
kiss each one with an open mouth.
spit has a way of healing.
we sleep with our feet touching and I am
only a little afraid to share sheets.

personal question

from the other side of the fire he says,
can i ask you a really personal question?
i nod like shaking a can of soup.

he asks about my mother’s dead babies, why
she kept giving birth to bits of bone and ear
and whether my insides could glue together
something whole.

he defends himself against my unspeaking:
maybe I shouldn’t care about this but
maybe I just want to know what I am
getting myself into.

I want to reach up, pull out a handful
of uterus: is this what you are getting
yourself into?

next time I suck on his fingers I think
of my mother heavy with child full of holes.
next time I am bleeding, I imagine the
beginning of bodies in every clot
suspended in toilet water.

he says: I didn’t mean to upset you.
I kiss him like a watermelon hitting pavement:
wet red flesh on concrete.

 

sunday morning

we are cleaning together for the first time
in months. and by cleaning i mean gathering
the cans of natty lite from around the broken
table, sweeping up shards of glass or making
sure it ends up in the soles of my feet. and by
together i mean you are sitting with your legs
propped on the crumpled table, empty bottles
stacked around your feet like members
of your court.

camping

we kiss by the fire until he pushes me back
into the grating and red welts rise like cross
stitches on the back of my calves. we unzip
the tent and my legs touch the sleeping bags –
I try not to yelp. when he burrows inside me
with his hands, I make sounds but let him dig.
sometimes the digging helps make him calm.
he makes me a den while my insides pile up
beside us.

moving in

when the first gray hairs sprout from his temple,
slightly thicker than spider silk but
thinner than cracked glass,
I lick my thumbs and smooth them,
trying to fill again with red earth color,
fissures in drying clay.

when he starts to sleep on the far side of the bed,
folded knees pressed against the doorframe
I start eating six meals a day.
if he gives me this much space,
he must want me
to find some way to fill it.

when he turns a fist on the set table,
rolls wrapped in creased napkin, puddled butter,
he yells because the salt is white,
not pink himalayan rock crystals.
we eat the pork with pepper and thyme instead.
later, i rub the skin of my cheek over the fine side
of the cheese grater. our little salt shaker
fills with pink.

heatwave

it is too hot to sleep or fuck.
we flip our bodies
and toss ourselves across the futon,
a fever fit – our brains and ankles swell
and soften like rice.
i take a drink of water and feel
guilty – dribble the liquid over him,
let it pool in the backs of his knees.
he says he is grateful, that i am good
at doing whatever it is we are doing.
when he takes a drink from the small
glass, i wait for the water to hit, to form
tributaries on my stretch marked thighs.
i hear him swallow.