my copy of The Sound and the Fury clutched to my chest, my hands fluttering with nerves.
When he said, She was his whole world, about Caddy’s kindness to Benji,
I thought How Beautiful, the clocks stilling and the field widening-- his oblong figure behind the tree.
I drew eyes in my notebooks that year, wet lashes, dense pupils.
Also his figure—slender, awkward, geometric.
He liked teasing me and also a few others. But only I read his copy of The Dialogues.
As I read, I felt him look. At night, I traced his scribbled notes with my finger.
Eight years later, I find a man who resembles him.
It’s your encyclopedic mind. It’s the strangeness of your features.
It’s the way you hold the burnt sugar to my mouth to taste, then pull it away, eager for
my caramelized reaction.
Isn’t it delicious?
There’s always going to be someone willing to give a spoonful
of their attention. The trick is to recognize the conversation
will run out, right into I’m sure we’ll run into each other sometime.
That was in the bookstore, the last time I saw him.
Now you are a page I read while holding my breath. I’ll turn you
into something else, a footnote of a person. Like I was
sitting next to you on our friend’s couch,
your hand on my thigh for several seconds. You said it--Do you want me to cook for you?
as if you could promise that and more.
To admit I love you would be to admit
I love ideas more than men, myself even less than ideas.
The thin line of your mouth, I could have held it down, erased the
I didn’t mean to make you think so.
What you don’t say is an iris locked in a container.
What I don’t say is an iris burning wildly over a pool of water.
I want you to take yours out.
Show it to me, please.
See how an object can change when a new person wants it.
To divulge is dangerous, but it’s also chimerical.
One side of me says, Destroy. The other, Be Gentle.
Now this pool of water is a platonic eye
that avoids attachment by rippling away.
These ashen petals: the expectation that you’ll understand intuitively
what has taken me years to describe.
I’m open to ridicule. I can let this go.
But just so you know, after school, it was like this:
I sat on the desk, we talked and talked.
You could say it was nothing, the windows fogged with winter,
the trees outside like the shadows of a bad idea
It does matter. I don’t have to tell you why.
-- Analicia Sotelo is the author of Virgin, the inaugural winner of the Jake Adam York Prize, selected by Ross Gay (Milkweed Editions, 2018.) She is also the author of the chapbook Nonstop Godhead, selected by Rigoberto González for a 2016 Poetry Society of America National Chapbook Fellowship. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the New Yorker, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Iowa Review and The Antioch Review. She is the 2016 DISQUIET International Literary Prize winner in poetry and is the recipient of scholarships from the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Image Text Ithaca Symposium. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Houston.