15 over in the back of an El Camino, jittery with uppers, heavy stain of malt liquor pooling in the passenger seat, engine the hot quiver of wake slowing under Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, barges trundling in from the sound.
I dug your grave in reeds, shallow brine, jetsam. You are still there, wallowing, for all I know. Buoy of blue hair, red Jeep blaring Blonde Redhead, buried under film reel, bootlace.
I forgave myself, but not before carving you everywhere, my thighs red clay, monument to longing. Stay with me, you said, never meaning it. Too much conceded to fantasy of us: record players, fucking in sweaters, coffee at all hours. These became things that I did alone.
People I send postcards to never needed me to be better at girl—dull lip, loud mouth, slightly unkempt was forgivable, even curious. I cannot blend eyeshadow, panic faced with romance, girl-performance in script untranslatable.
Long skirt, blazer tight across swimmer’s shoulders. I interrupt men and stalk conflict.
Gender of the day: heavy-soled boot, totebag full of lube, going to bed early, walking you to the door. I play with men: stand too close, hike up my skirt just to see if I can get away with it, fat hips pressing wide, a lagoon, high tide every time I leave the house.
Ache jolts my bones, carrying each heavy inch of me. Some days I just want to be let loose, a small-city dyke preoccupied with rescue.
I pull off each sneaker like a skin, something I will grow back, a callus, a mask.
You don’t have to fuck me. Freeze, lips whiskey-wet, mid-confession, hands slipping from fold to my thigh. We are stone, cast in streetlight slaking off bright cement, altar drenched by wet North Carolina autumn, river pouring into afternoon, my skirt soaked.
Melt: pull my hem higher, pull your fingers into me and let you show me how you’ve changed.
I sneak to the studio, late summer, early morning. I brim with keg beer and want, your blue hair grown out. The back deck a cool island, you smoking, pointing out stars; you are kissing my best friend. I stack stones in the side yard, coil in your laundry, drive two hours home and carve runes into green walls, cut my hair with cuticle scissors.
Jeans mark my crude attempt at stoic, silk shirt, open toe. Not a play at masculinity, but the only way to dull sad sting between each throbbing organ. Could I drag you down? Or are you the thing anchoring, dredging, eroding, plate of iron strapped across me, that I shoulder around like a cross, your red Jeep, pavement screeching, hood still steaming, fraying Dickies, blue hair snipped and abandoned, relic of rope sprouting between us too long.
I dead-head you, pinch you off like a cyst, toss you in the ocean where once your body shined, a bright fish under full moon. A thunderhead nods approval.