The truth is that he called her worse if only to make her stop.
She became a place he once lived and loved but no longer longed for.
Then a friend stopped dancing to say, “I don’t know who or when, but someone loved
And he recalled how she sat on his bed, rubbing his back in the dark, singing.
Her mother blamed the sun for her dark complexion but didn’t know who her father was.
She stopped him, once, in the narrow hall as he made his way in a towel.
Still wet from the shower, he held the knot at his waist.
Above them hung a replica of Goya’s Naked Maja, and he could see, now, that her mouth
was moving. Are you? she asked a second time, her fist rising over his head.
One night, his son woke up and wandered the hall, sobbing.
He picked the child up and rocked him until his body stopped shaking.
His son who wasn’t his, who looked like her.
You are a fucking idiot, a stupid faggot, she would say,
her meaning made clear through pitch and tone, pace and breath, her face pressed close
to his, begging to be hit.
After the pain
we hang on
the crooked tooth.
at your bedside,
does this mean
it isn’t real?
in the California
dark. Don’t go,
I’d say each night
as you turned
more story. When
will we be
us. We’ve sung
While you wait, the body sleeps.
The body wakes. The body will
not eat. The body sips. The body is
hot and cold. The body is
broken. The body is lifted and
set down, again. You can hold
the body. You can kiss the body, but
the body sighs. All day, the body is
failing, the mind failing to
forgive the body for this failure.
All day, it’s almost over.
All day, the body won’t,
the body says, No,
to the water glass,
but air fills the body
the way light fills
the house at night,
so those outside know
someone is living there.