Orchids

If I could rest my face among the roots
of strangler figs, I would cast myself
high above the earth and call
upon the orchids to bring me down.
War blooms in purple and deep brown
bruises. A nighttime of locked doors,
barred windows and pale skin.
Wrap me in bark until I become it.
I am floorboards and the orchids
sprout here, dance with themselves,
twirl their ghosts around a ballroom,
staining me.

Search Party

I put this begging in my mouth
and ask it to wet my tongue.
I ask to find my sister before it all–
to wrap her in a warm blanket, stroke her hairline.
Beads of sweat gather there.
I ask to trace them, rugged across
her pubescent forehead.
Rugged as it tries to keep living.
I have never seen my sister naked.
I have never seen her in love.
I have her school picture
hanging by the take-out menu on my fridge.

I put this begging in my mouth
and ask it that when she walk
the halls, she think of me.
I never thought we looked alike
because her eyes were mirrors,
mine closets, keeping sweaters
safe in summer. I ask it
to hold her hand, touch light
pink on her wrists and thighs
and tell her she’s allowed
to swim with sun fish and let them
tickle her feet, let them
find themselves swimming in her
instead of among her.
I put this begging in my mouth and choke.
I ask her to come home.

In the Morning

throat taut but wet  /  things may go but not
too fast  /  always put the spoon
in the sugar /  first  /  never the coffee  /  it will sit
face up  /  on the corner  /  of the sink
spine stretched  /  reaching for the hand
the skin  /  and I need it

I need it to get used  /  to the heat and welcome
being used  /  go through me slowly
burn my mouth  /  but cool as  /  you go down
you were made  /  with silver
and this body  /  and one will consume you
I will lick the spoon dry  /  dip it
right back  /  into the sugar  /  let the granules clump
until I must lick it again.

I Should Have Read to Her

I should have read to her. We were young, but I was able and knew stories
of fish buried in the backyard, heard the tales of sidewalks and mothers,
of pacing cracks into floors of two bedroom apartments.
Before she was born, I remember hiding from the spit of my father’s anger,
and when my mother left with a black duffel bag, I forgot my name
and I forgot how to expel carbon dioxide from my lungs, and
the hymns my grandmother sang and the way the furnace kicked on
more than usual, the consequence of plastic over windows but God-
dammit I never forgot how the air smelled when she came back.
As if the molecules felt bad they needed to rearrange themselves
once more. Again and again the floor creaked. I should have read to her.
I should have read to her from the pages of a rehab brochure,
told her the black-and-blue plate sitting on the cabinets next to her school picture
was healing from so many times slammed into the sink. It never broke but sometimes I wish it had.

Release

As I took it from the others
I imagined myself
skinning it. Rind too soft
to endure the fingernails
of a woman, white marrow
caked beneath, poised,
graceful. I am grateful
for the sweetness that runs
down my arm, threshold
peeled away consciously
with a dexterous finger.
I regret nothing, skin
forgotten as I bring the fruit
to my mouth and suck on the seeds,
as I spit them like bone
to be held in the hands of soil,
to be abandoned by maggots.

flora

From the train
I watch berries grow

and I think about
how many city lights

have seeds stuck
in their teeth

and how many tongues
must be working

to fish them out
and spit them

into the river
cutting my world in half.

Saliva dribbles down into it.

Coats the dandelion weeds
and cuffed sleeves

of an office attendant.
Skin is so fragile

nowadays. Stained
purple even after

the conductor waves
us goodbye.

Bargaining

I want to see you.
No, not then. Soon.
Who am I kidding,
I forgot myself here
under a comforter too hot.
Come back. Come.
Harder. Undo this.
I waved to you
and it only rustled the sheets.
A sea of air is drowning
me now, straightening
my shirt, tying my hair
into a bun. Who knew
I’d be stuck watching
august settle slowly
down between pale knees.