I’ve been waking with an empty net in my hands. I’ve been re-reading the Neruda poem about the rain taking off her clothes. Tonight the moon is a surgical mask and the stars psych ward refugees. Somewhere in this zip code, two teenagers are making a backseat holy, their hips harmonizing with the radio, a gun in the glove compartment. There is always a gun in the glove compartment, just as there will always be parties where I accept a ride home from someone whose name I’ve spent the last two hours dragging through dirt. Right now, you think I’m eating pasta with a friend who has a PhD and a dog and doesn’t feel like a spare tire most of the time. Really, I’m home, thinking about nesting dolls and how all my life I’ve been a charley horse in the thigh of some god. There’s this dream where my heart is a salted pretzel, which is better than the one where my body is a looted ship, which isn’t a dream at all. I keep thinking we are in the temple of the apathetic ghost or picturing us on Plymouth Rock, where I am burying the flag of my finger beneath the band of your jeans. Call me an armchair romantic. Call me when you finish your old Cuban, when you leave the bar with the beautiful women on tap, so I can tell you I’ve decided not to be a broken window anymore. It’s going to be all rapid-fire dick jokes and YouTube videos of Celtic dance from here on out. We’ll be a Labor Day barbeque. I’ll be the watermelon and you can be the spoon.
SHADOWBOXING after Jackson Burgess
Here are the sex cries my neighbors threw against my walls, here is the hair you left on my pillow, here is the sound I made when I found out my grandfather has cancer, here are the bats that sleep in my lungs.
Here is the fire escape, and here is what happened on the fire escape, a matchbox, a light bulb, a box of Sudafed, scissors.
Here is my body making love to its shadow, music of teeth against teeth, lips against neck, my body a basketball hoop, a flat tennis ball, broken beer bottle, here is the prescription I haven’t worked up the nerve to fill.
Here is Los Angeles begging someone to hold its hair back while it vomits a gas mask, a lighter, a butterfly with its back wings torn off.
Here I am naked, apologizing for being naked. Here is a concave mirror. Here is me falling into the concave mirror. Here is the question of where I will land or if.
BRIDGE, SHADOW, HAND
I would like to say something about bridges, bridges and hands, how when you hold hands on a bridge it no longer feels like a bridge, how after, watching a lit candle do that thing you like with the dark, you decide it doesn’t really matter whether your life is simple in its collapsibility or collapsible in its simplicity, you think the questions you have with yourself are just tinted vials in a medicine cabinet, who cares if your body is a dormant volcano, what does it matter which of your friends have picked out names for their first three children while you spent most of the day feeling like a receipt someone forgot at McDonald’s, and can I just share this theory that a person can fall down her own shadow, that sex is not always about breaking and entering though both involve thresholds and hands and sometimes cuffs for those hands, what is it anyway about hearing someone you love speak your name that feels like being rocked back and forth, is there anything more sacred than that person’s mouth, how it opens like a renaissance, how it is always a metaphor for sex, so you are an astronaut each time you necromance another curve of the body, so you have this desire to touch other people’s things, it’s all relative, the way you enter the museum of love, how you are always standing too close to the paintings, leaving the blue of your breath behind as a fingerprint, it’s okay, it’s alright, this bridge isn’t going anywhere, the maple leaves are happy to see you, the water below doesn’t want you in its arms, you are not going to fade out like a cough, the person whose skin you are touching wants you to read it like braille, this blood rollercoastering your arteries says, Put his finger in your mouth, think about the merging of shadows, imagine the body as a lamp, which it is.
-- Ruth Madievsky's first poetry collection, Emergency Brake, was named Tavern Books' 2015-2016 Wrolstad Contemporary Poetry Series selection and is forthcoming in January 2016. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere. She was a 2015 Tin House Scholar in Poetry. She is originally from Moldova and lives in Los Angeles, where she is a doctoral student at USC’s School of Pharmacy. You can find her at ruthmadievsky.com.