I gave you my back as he gave me his:
I wanted to be held without holding.
I wanted to be touched without touching.
I wanted to be kissed without kissing,
to be bitten, to be clenched, and pressed.
And you did. You bumped your head against me.
Like a cat, you pointed out. And it was
true, its gesture captured in the pace and
pressure of your movement. A tense, quiet
demand. I touched your head, contemplated
your lips, my view of you
bisected, and pronounced you beautiful.

So you are the domesticated cat
while I’m the feral one, edging the space,
watching the open hand, wanting it and
eschewing it once, then again.
An aging woman, shy as a girl, wrestling with the
moralizing chat, that internalized
discourse waged to judge desire without
accounting for specifics.

Were I older or younger I might have missed it.
Or had I been born to different parents,
secure in love and lust and a shared
history. But they were only bound by paper
and us, twin obligations: the bland
requirements of open mouths and bleeding
lips, dirty bottoms, and rumpled sheets, little,
sticky hands with sweaty palms,
muddy feet.

The dirt of every day collected on
us and was washed away to collect
again, the needs accruing and
complicating until the burden broke
them apart and they left us there, standing
in the wreckage still in need, me: holding
the fish tank full of fish (where is it now?)
and screaming – why don’t you trust me – as he
locked me out of the house, got in Bill Bailey’s
car, and rode away.

I had tried, not a half hour before, to break the
mirror in the hall, remembering all the times my
father threw my shoes.

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