Hottest June

rooftopping myself into       the arms of the hottest June
Seattle can give       I remind myself that I’m a seed
of desert        drought my first     language        other landscaped 
languages may thrill           but will remain
foreign                     wearing my body bold      I try to stop  
myself from giving it
the side-eye when there is no one to witness my slip of a dress and
where my arms stretch     into marks               lines mapping where
I’m coming from                        and going       I study
my scarred   topography    roughed bumped skin and fat each line 
a curve           manifesting me      visible                      I’m reminded 
of my adolescent ache for dissipation                no whiteness—  
I slathered my grainy arms with     doctor prescribed chemicals
stayed out    of the sun                and waited     for my skin to peel
an unspooling of 
thread into    momentary ocean
but between burning and
unraveling of 
gathered compliments  for my new delicate dermis
this here is always uneasy           terrain
a whipped up regret                   the family nose too thick for desirability
that teenage mirror             would not reveal the good side of bone 
or       fat     or the brown of this expanse I call                      body
each day since       is worked reflection a tending         to my own geography— 
a sharp bloom of prickly spine. 

Related Poems

A Parisian Roof Garden in 1918

As I must mount to feed those doves of ours,  
Perhaps you too will spend nocturnal hours   
      Upon your roof   
      So high aloof 
That from its terraced bowers   
We catch at clouds and draw a bath from showers.  
Before the moon has made all pale the night,  
Let's meet with flute and viol, and supper light :  
A yew lamb, minted sauce, a raisined bun,  
A melon riper than the melting sun—  
A flask of Xeres, that we've scarce begun—  
We'll try the « lunar waltz » while floats afar  
Upon the liquid night—night's nenuphar.  
Or else, with senses tuned alike perchance,  
Reclining love will make the heavens dance;  
And if the enemy from aerial cars  
Drops death, we'll share it vibrant with the stars!

Ode on My Episiotomy

Forget pearls, lace-edged kerchiefs, roomy pleats—
this is my most matronly adornment:
stitches purling up the middle of me
to shut my seam, the one that jagged gaped
upon my fecund, unspeakable dark,
my indecorum needled together
with torquemadan efficiency.  
But O!  the dream of the dropped stitch!  the loophole
through which that unruly within might thread,
catch with a small snag, pull the fray, unknit 
the knots unnoticed, and undoily me.

Don't lock up the parlor yet; such pleasure 
in unraveling, I may take up the sharps
and darn myself to ladylike again.