I, the revision to the canvas,
the scratched-out color that was there
I, the dimple in the wine
I, the scissors, the paper, the glue
I, the show and tell in the woods
I, the letter by the blue lamp
I, the pinstripe among pinstripes on the slim tie
I, the list of fires, I
the woman, bored
I, the violent body
I, the first raindrop to land
I, the spiral staircase to the roof
I, the watering can empty
On his birthday I call James, we exchange energetic hellos—
he is graduating in the winter, six years late.
He can’t wait to tell me his drag queen friend sings karaoke,
hits the high notes and flashes some thigh,
wears shimmering blue eye shadow and long falsies.
I’m still not getting married, when James asks.
My boyfriend’s dresser is full of other women’s underwear
and I caught him watching Disney princess porn.
We looked at each other in shock
while the Beast took Belle from behind.
James sighs, tells me I’m a prude. He’s tried everything.
He ticks them off, kink by kink,
leather, anal beads, girls. I roll my eyes.
When I tried talking dirty in bed, I got no reply.
In my relationship, everyone wants
to be on top, so no one wins.
James shakes his head. He only wants to talk about her,
how gender fluctuates on her body,
her pretty dick like a resting Buddha between her legs,
her throaty laugh and how her oat milk skin
is lit from beneath with a blue light.
He tells me how she pouted and asked
in a seductive baritone,
Fuck me in the ass? and laughed, and laughed.
Fabric and Habit
Gender is a dress I can’t unzip:
it stiffens across my ribs, pools
and melts in my collarbone,
constricts my legs with its tight skirt;
its corset stacks the links of my spine
straight from skull to coccyx.
It manifests in my fingers, a nervous
play of palm and knuckle,
a quick nail-scrape of dead skin
from my inner lip, ladylike.
But imagine shearing off this girdle
and hoop, to know the truth, empty
round and waving— full breaths,
wind rushes over skin, someone incredible
picnics beneath an ancient oak tree.
She lifts both arms to the rain, her only god,
her body is an acorn newly hatched—
I mean it opens to the world.
Who else will miss her hands,
cool and soft and brief
and filled with dread,
the organized elephants
in her eyes, a list
whispered in the courtyard
of what is pure;
dreams of lying naked
in a sheath of ice
made the nights
together we formed one idea.
What wouldn’t I forgive her,
who lost the guests
in radiant light;
she killed them for me,
my black-eyed love
my alarm, my familiar at the door.