she cries your name
Pick up the phone.
Its deliberate shrill cuts into your head,
heavy and laconic as a bowling ball.
The cocaine and scummy gin you did at 3am isn’t helping.
Leaning into the sinking middle of the damp mattress
as though preparing to be swallowed whole and spun into a chrysalis,
just for this morning; this hard, unforgiving morning
you’re sticky with sex and double-dealing jive.
Your worn tapestry of breathing is a study in suburbia –
not big cities like she wanted you to return her to.
The city disappears, buildings no longer cutting into the sky;
more like a chain of robots lopped off by the same machine.
You wonder what’s rumbling in their bellies –
from where you are, you can only see where
steel and glass blooms in their chests.
Hands cupped to your ears, you laugh, which you don’t do much anymore.
You laugh when you shouldn’t, like when someone dies or loses a limb.
You know she’s gonna nurse the receiver in her lap,
groaning your name like an animal chained to a tree –
asking unanswerable questions, her body rocking in a corner,
festering with old paint and mould you could carve statues out of.
Your mind beats, ‘you can’t muscle yourself out of this one.’
Still, the phone slices through you.
She doesn’t care that your throat is retching raw, your head heaving
like a re-inflated lung, and neither does her father.
But you’ve just realised her father’s not a normal kind of cleaner,
so you pick the phone up with your numb hand that stinks of her sex.
Her body sinks into the bus seat,
springs slack from all the asses, feet and grappling hands before her.
The split vinyl under her means:
the pulling of skirts,
the grab of her hair in an adoring way like her father used to clench it,
hands closing in on her throat in another adoring stroke.
She gets it while she can, and turns to think that it was a bad time to leave him.
Wringing her hands, she sweats beneath others to pay her rent.
She would like to tell her father, but he would try and own her again
and she cannot face his questions or speak in full sentences.
Clapping herself out of the moment, her sinewy legs drag her body off the bus.
A scramble through an outpost of shame, and she’s home.
So high was he last night, he barreled through
a strangers house so fast, people a series of fuzzy stills,
Fleeing to the bathroom, he covers his ears, catches her through the gauze.
Body freckled from mold on the shower curtain,
a stink of blue cheese he can’t quite shake from his tongue.
At the darkest moment before dawn, he can hear his mother whispering,
‘step a little closer to the lie and you’ll find what you want to hear.
You might even find the truth.’
Reaching out of the silence, the curtain pulls away.
She lopes out of the shower, eyeing off a towel,
her thighs dripping with a pink patina of urgency.
He gives her a rope to fall with and to fall well.
After all, she’s just the girl who puts ice in his drink.