Another open marriage breaks into song, woe is
the one who stays home on date night. No hunger
but for the rarest steak on your love’s lover’s plate;
no salt like the sprinkle licked from the cursive ass
of this last, best idea to invite the world to love you.
Childhood friend says she’s just opened hers and
I see the rib spreaders and my grandfather’s pale chest,
a purpled pucker rolled like solder in a wide T.
He who only had one lover his whole life, who loves
that about himself. At eighty, what stories will they tell us
about the fidelity of a husband’s wife’s boyfriend?
How long will you strain against—toward unknown
quantities? Like the friend who told us to watch her
french kiss under the archway after school. How we
leaned in silence, undone by familiar hands gone stray.
*** ** ***
It was nothing.
That’s what you say when
you want what you want.
A long-torso woman dances
with you and I
watch like an erotic mugging.
It’s the one you can’t see
holding us together
with small hands.
Lust equals three
heavy latches undone.
We dream all night of harm.
*** ** ***
For women, it is all in the head.
An El Niño event is coming, but
I haven’t prepared. It’s been a hard
August, losing something the size
of Maine every day and breaking
records all over this lava lamp globe.
Maybe we could try again. Take off
your shirt and tell me you read
the article about the twenty-five
thousand slaughtered elephants.
My aunt would say, Bless them,
all trumpeting in heaven now, but
even she has never given me hope
in the square footage of the hereafter.
Since Reagan’s second term it’s been
getting hotter. Three hundred and thirty
straight months, but I’ve stayed true:
We’ll touch when the cold comes.
*** ** ***
Aluminum boat, I once lingered in your middle, in sun.
I was returned to Mother a lobster, steaming from each cell.
And you carried us: the men assembled by my Father,
and I, the small queen with no clothes, no shelter—
around the lake and its terrors.
I held a bucket of minnows between my legs. My hand broke
the surface and grabbed for small silver bodies.
The men grasped them easily, hooked through the head.
Reels zip, cans gasp, invisible lines are pulled like come close.
When the aloe cracked and tea bags drew heat from me, I still
felt the sway between your ribs, heard the slap against you.
*** ** ***
And here emerges a new season,
where the too early leaves push behind
the dead ones, never dropped, baby teeth
in an ancient mouth. Deciduous is a word
I wanted upon first hearing.
Fitted against your heat, I place our
two frames into the possible, now visible, end.
Our anaphylactic love, our sex so prone
to bees. We are dancing on
the last of everything, writhing hard
to shake the foliage down.
Sarah Pape teaches English and works as the Managing Editor of Watershed Review at Chico State. Her poetry and prose has recently been published in Passages North, Ecotone, Crab Orchard Review, Harpur Palate, The Pinch, Smartish Pace, The Collapsar, Pilgrimage, The Squaw Valley Review, The Superstition Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. She curates community literary programming and is a member of the Quoin Collective, a local letterpress group. Check out her website for more: www.sarahpape.com.
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