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Summer boredom flutters its
sticky wings. You guzzle
cooking wine, gag on the old whiskey
you find in the pantry.
In the warmth of your bedroom,
you pierce your navel
with a safety pin, slice
the skin you hide beneath
your billowy dresses. Glitter-eyed
in the murky dance clubs,
you snort blow until the dregs
trickle down your throat and
shock your sluggish heart.
You dance in the frenetic
lights, the untz untz vibrating
your face and skull until
morning. But everywhere,
the pain suckles you. Everywhere,
you hold its lumpy head to your breast
like a saint. A fat man in a basement
tattoos a scraggly moon
on your hip, anything to smother
the soft and constant vertigo, to stitch
a spirit so riddled with leeches.
Some evenings you brim
with the sky's quiet bruising—
colors as beautiful as the spilled
brains of a bird. Such a fucked
holiness, you think. Weeping,
you read Walt Whitman—the blow,
the quick loud word,
the tight bargain, the crafty
lure. You hold a mirror to study
your tender socket. May we eat
and drink in remembrance
of the body. Oh how the salt sings.
One morning you cut your hair
slowly then shear it altogether.
Whether that which appears
so is so, or is it all flashes
and specks? In that slurry
of August, the silence climbs you
like a man until you hear
the meaty flaps of God inside you.
This poem was one of the winners of the 2013 "Discovery" Poetry Contest.
Erika L. Sánchez is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection, Lessons on Expulsion (Graywolf 2017), and the young adult novel, Brown Girl Problems (Knopf 2017). She has received a CantoMundo Fellowship, a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship.
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