Laramie, Wyoming


lemons,” Harlan says he cares for cars instead, the plains
rising like bread from our glowing windows, Harlan’s
neck blushing to heat and the women he’s wrestled,
his barren limbs circling above them in a wash
of sweat and sock. We knead our common bodies
one to another, palm to bulk, and in middle
America, I sit next to a man I will never know,
taxiing, Harlan driving us this giving night. We are
three strangers in the strangeness of the talk of love,
and I am a little drunk, returning to my mother,
who stacked warm lemons on my neck. Like her, I know
how to cut from the wholeness of fruit, how to squeeze
an open body for its juice, my hand a vise,
Harlan’s women softening to my fingers: the waxed
pocks of their skins, how women keep their wetness
under their bitter whites. In Georgia, we learned to drink
the watered sour, heat lightning cracking above
us, and even new housewives know how to release
from three spoonfuls a pitcher’s worth, how to cut
the tart with sugar. The rind, the resistant ellipses,
are not the talk we make for men, only Sugah, have
some more, and there’s a tart too, why, what else
could I have done with so many lemons? and we press
our sweating cups to their lips, slipping
flavor and fragrance—the shells, the containers
we broke for want of ade, cast. From the phonograph
of his front seat, Harlan’s voice spins me, the man
beside me a coiling leg, and juiced, we say lemons! together
in the working yeast of this cab, and what unapologetic
fruit they are, leaving the smell of themselves even
after I have scrubbed my hands free from them, my wrists
having pushed men to drink, oh, Sugar, and I want more
than anything now to call out for my mother,
who could roll into a room with the oval of her uncut
self, who could press her palm hot against my chest
as I breathed. We exhale our imbibed sprits out
to glass, wrapping ourselves in smoke.
Harlan chews a Nicorette each time he tries to break open
a woman and she serves him only lemons. Night
is moving us through another coming winter
and we laugh quietly now to the pressure, each coming
to the cool center of our single selves, and each pressing
the other away from our own opposing bodies, where
we are drifting to our separate and yellowed hallways,
to perfume, the persistence of our missing women.


From For Want of Water (Beacon Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Sasha Pimentel. Used with the permission of the poet and Beacon Press.