Your mouth was a torment to me
           and I came within a hair
of telling you so.
           Your laughing mouth, on that
video you sent me. Specifically, your 
            delight, in a glittering wave,
singing karaoke
            Honky Tonk Woman in your truck
to your women’s ice hockey 
           team—bobbing back and forth
in your white oxford cloth button down
           and loosened red tie—
And the green dots everywhere. Your
           online engagements.
The sacral prana 
            flowing through
and over me, even
            at that distance,
on my tiny screen.

           I was next to the cement
floor of the peripeteia,
           where weeks before
my brother, visiting
            the same cousin
in silvery, wind-beaten Beaufort, 
           North Carolina,
nearly bled out at the foot
           of the bed, a jagged glass
in his right hand. Were it not  
           for the crash, Tipper
would not have found
           him till morning.

I’m not clear on why men
            like you can take me
down so completely.
            Why I think it would
be amusing.
           You’ve put me down
from the get-go. Craving
           is a hard mistress—a hard and
charismatic mother—.
           Ask my brother.

Copyright © 2023 by Dana Roeser. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 28, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.