If you fall asleep now, all the mice will ﬁnd your bed.
Drawn to the warm life in you, they’ll spend the night
power grooming your small patches of fur nibbling
on your overgrown toenails. You don’t want that.
It’s too close. Stay awake, Vasya.
No one’s coming. Breeze is cold.
Pull the covers over your ears. Not a woman.
Just the shape of a woman.
Weight presses down on your duvet-lump body push
the word go from your ghost-wrapped throat. She’ll go.
Not all ghosts mean trouble —you could let her stay.
(To aid sleep, recite the Cyrillic alphabet.)
At the foot of your bed something.
Close your window, keep water by.
That’s a frog’s croak. That’s your body.
That’s a night bird.
On the Brighton Beach boardwalk men sit in the rain shelters smelling of piss, shouting drunk genius into the afternoon sun. Men play chess on small portable sets, holding beach umbrellas for cover. Men take care of other men, raising them from wheelchairs and guiding them to benches and it looks just like slow dancing. So gentle. Someone has rolled blue carpets from the boards, over the beach, to the pale-blue water.
There are so many young mothers but my mother has hope for me too. She says a beautiful girl like me, men must make advances all the time. A beautiful girl like me has to think of her future. A beautiful girl like me, well, cousin Lena turned forty and she quit that Los Angeles life and that Los Angeles girlfriend. Got herself a rich husband, an adopted baby. And, don’t you know they love that baby? They love her despite how, in the wrong light, she’s a little too brown.
I’m furiously stuffing my mouth with black bread because this talk makes me angry and because I’m crying, staring down into my plate, thinking on last night—how you called me difficult when you could have called me beautiful. And here it is, beautiful tumbling out my mother’s mouth like bad oil. More and more I imagine my dead body slumped beside me. It feels peaceful. We’re just having a heart-to-heart, my mother says, you shouldn’t get so upset.
You don’t love me, you say, and deflate
our air mattress, meeting me at the fold.
We’re in a bad lesbian performance piece
You don’t eat the sandwich I make you.
I puncture your yoga ball. Or, the dog did
This is a drawing of the dog.
I meant to watch something and be still
for a long time.
I'm not sure what belongs to me.
It’s your money
stop asking me what you mean
Porcelain skunk, perfect Q-tip holder.
Ceramic parrot, good for something.
If you don’t trust me with this cup then wrap it yourself.
The dog hasn’t stopped barking in hours—anxious.
I know you can lift the chair, what you can do
is not the point.
But, like, where is the body?
Girl in Feminist Literary Theory wants to know. She’s got
precise long ringlets, tendency toward baby-doll shirts. Yes, and opacity?
PhDs round the table join in, What is the opacity of the body?
And the writer . . . is she here in the text?
(Hermeneutics) Where is the body? Where is the body?
All poets on standby: we prod our bran muffins,
plop baby carrots back into Tupperware, our underarms cold with irritation.
The professor trails white chalk across her grey skirt, ﬁlling up the blackboard
with heteroromance. Oh?
Tell me more about that marriage plot,
I am licking my ﬁngers and picking up crumbs.
I’m crying fruit tears inside the Goblin Market. I am Lizzie calling Laura up the
garden. Did you miss me? Come and kiss me. Never mind my bruises, hug me, kiss
me, suck my juices.
Squeez’d from goblin fruits for you, goblin pulp and goblin dew.