THE YEAR OF THE HORSE
You told me to meet you by the creek,
the one with the water that imperfectly struts
through dirt, like a broken pageant queen.
Its current so stiff and disingenuous, you once
joked that it needed whiskey just to make it
to the dam.
I didn’t go. I sat at the kitchen table
and slowly drank warm soda. I swirled it
in my glass like wine, its caramel
undertones forming blooming tulips
in my stomach.
I’ve had dreams where I’ve let you go,
set fire to your canoe after I pushed
it from the bank, using all my girlhood
crush strength. My boots drowned in earth’s
sap, my legs nearly swallowed whole,
but I had to get the job done, didn’t I?
I said no prayer for your body.
* * * * *
THE MARRIAGE POST
I carve my vows into our bedpost
with an X-Acto knife long before
I am precise. Sawdust fills my nails:
an appetite taken care of, a fullness
only animals truly know.
Tattooing our promises like stupid
Americans, we pay double, no —
triple the price for matching rings.
As I stab the wooden frame,
the neighbors gather around the house
as though I am giving away free
gold watches. Or maybe they stand
and watch, pretending I am a man
being clubbed to death,
blood dripping down my nostrils,
my mouth that never really was meant
When I am done, the bed trembles,
the wild dogs gallop from the canyon,
severing everything they hold dear.
* * * * *
It’s humid where it shouldn’t be,
the sky sweats down our stomachs, this coastal
air is thick like honey.
I can’t seem to wash the syrup off my skin,
waiting for the rain that was supposed to come
yesterday. I need its release mostly to remind
me that my body can understand me still,
my bones are still mine, my muscles are
clumsy like fish that wrap me whole. I am
a birthday present; Thankful for this,
and taking two multi-vitamins a day, I pretend
I’m on a cruel island with no fruit.
To love neatly is to forget about the part
of your brain that wishes to ravage,
rip something apart simply because it belongs
to you and will listen to the way your cries sound
like kid songs.
Gina’s work has been published or is forthcoming in PANK, Treehouse, Milksugar, The Legendary, The Rumpus, and LA Review. She is currently Poetry International’s social media coordinator and associate editor, where she works under poet Ilya Kaminsky.
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