Red-Lipped Poem

You only respond
to marrow
scooped clean.

You stare. I touch
your silk. Shiver. Some nights,
you let in a kiss abruptly

through the mask. Pant.
            Here, your bread,
sliced into neat warm ovals.

Whisper. It’s impossible. Is it
that you have nowhere
to go? No. Your family

loves you. But here you are
the only monster. The last
and first star: the one
in the clan who won’t stay put.

Tonight, you arrive;
you said you wouldn’t.
Here, a linen napkin;
we can't always afford it.

I do not always have
what you lope about
seeking. It isn’t so easy
to keep the harness buckled.
            Be still. Only we know
how this works.

Copyright © 2022 by Tarfia Faizullah. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 16, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.