Sunday, January 20, 2013

Exercises in Honesty

I only make a promise if I know
I can keep it. Put another way, I never
make a promise I'm not sure I can keep.

aren't always words. Sometimes they're sighs,
glances that linger, pleading eyebrows
raised in fear, my mother's fist, fingertips
taking their lovelong time, my mother's slow-burning
whisper in public, each barometric syllable a portent
of things to come.

The first time my sister walked in on my parents,
I refused.
Cuddling, canoodling, that's all, kissing, playing, that's all, how
can I love anyone if I can't love the woman
who birthed me, how can my father
love me if he loves a woman who burns me
how can my partner love me if all
I know how to do is burn?

Fire isn't the only thing that burns.
My mother's hands, my mother's voice was a burning my love
for him is a burning, acid
burns too, these things don't burn
like fire. Acid touches
and takes hold, moves in, spreads out, consumes
in such a way that nothing
was ever there, leaves scars,
leaves melted, leaves raw, leaves.

This isn't supposed to be another poem about my mother.

I want nothing more than to stand
somewhere sacred-
a courthouse, a chapel, a childhood backyard-
to hold his hand, grip his gaze and say,
i promise. i promise. i do.
But what if some acid
slips out accidental?
It isn't polite to burn guests.

I lose
my shit
if someone touches my head.
I never knew why
til somebody asked me, "Did someone
hurt you there?" and i'm two years old, 
six, eleven, fifteen, laid out
on my parents' bed, my stubborn curls
draped over the edge as she claws
the brush through trying
to square peg my round hole straight.
I like for my lover to pull my hair.

In my dreams my fist is a brick and her face
is pudding, layered, vanilla opens to strawberry,
a slapthump symphony, sweet and wet, I like for my lover
to slap me sometimes.

Our bodies promise, too,
without using voices,
knot themselves around other bodies, other hearts.
When I rest my head on his chest I can hear
his heart opening
When he wraps his cradle hands
around my head
I'm home.

Sometimes I hear
her laugh claw out of
my throat.
I thirst
for acid.
But I stop.
I can not tell you
I love you
through scars.

When I tell you
I love you
I want it to be
a promise.

1 comment:

epixjcp said...

Something is unfinished about 7.

Provide a little more buildup before letting us know that you like your lover to slap you sometimes.