You Are a Dark Body
of water with a bed of rock barely visible
from your surface. You are the only dark body
of water in a desert littered with bleeding cactus.
At your collarbones you carry a gulch, held up by a thread
of hair. You travel days drinking only from yourself,
because you are this land’s only dark body
of water. At the crease of horizon you find a woman
in bed, her chest wet with saliva, you kick her
off the bed, and take her place among its sheets. A man
lies down in bed next to you. He swallows your dark body
of water and gives you a woman’s body, a body you’ve
never known. As a woman he gives you sores, and through
the sores you breathe, and despite the sores you give birth
to a child stillborn for lack of water. You kick the child off
the bed, but it returns in the arms of the woman whose bed
you stole. You cry to be made again into a dark body
of water. The man kicks you off the bed, covers you
with dirt, and turns you desert. You cry for a bed he will never
let you sleep in again. You cry for your body’s bed
of rock turned desert for lack of water.
Copyright © 2016 by Natalie Scenters-Zapico. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 6, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.