I Guess By Now I Thought I’d Be Done With Shame
but I opened my coat to prove a point
and kept coming home with colds.
I thought I was done stuffing fists
in my mouth to mute the sound.
Done lying about what trails my throat
had charted. I practiced looking tall
men in the eye, spoke loudly,
pronounced every ‘R.’
I chopped wood at midnight.
I left the shower and kept
singing. I sang about my body
like I was proud. I was proud.
I was – My legs churned the poolwater.
I clamped silicone and didn’t cry.
Learned the names of oils. Asked
for another finger. I cried. Swore
to drown before saying sorry.
I sang about my death
like I was over it. Ground
my face into the soil, like I was ready
to shave it off. I stopped shaving.
Told a joke in the voice of a stupid
girl. I waved a flag of my own bones.
I threw my sordid liver at a man –
think fast – then acted surprised,
again, when he caught it in his teeth.
Not everyone who speaks this way
is lying. Somewhere,
there is a version of me that isn’t neck-
deep in her invented filth.
Somewhere a woman is walking
barefoot through the woods,
trailing white linen, walking without
a dog snapping at her heels.
Both of us are singing.
Both of us are bragging
in the past tense.
One of us is still here.
That much, I guess,
at least, is true.
The Ocean Offers Femmes Some Unsolicited Advice
Everyone’s a blue planet under the skin – it’s only
once you’ve sucked me in that it shows. Remember:
gravity still has a name here, just goes lighter on its feet. Corpses
don’t fall, but float. What you call wet,
I call room to breathe. Funny how what kills you is also what
you’ll crawl for, across sand, across a lap. What heavies
your pelvis, and: what shushes the ringing when you dip your skull
below. I know – it’s a heat run. It’s a bleached
reef, that whole waterlogged want-theater thing. When the salt
in your body races to meet its maker. That thirst,
eight-brained and eyeless. Poor animal, you. Spitting out
your horrid stomach in hopes of a bite. Sure, break
the surface; doesn’t mean you can swim. Animal
dear. Keep up. Remember: I’m the only woman who
can never drown. Under my skin, a thousand towers,
the thrum of space already-filled. If you want
that kind of touch, I’ll oblige. Take it all in, girl. Drink me
with your rooms, and I’ll raise your bloated frame back
up to that surface – toward that sun you claim you love.