Tryst Between Ill-Fates and Weary Bones
I used to starve myself. I used to believe that if
I disappeared, I could easily be replaced by a goat.
I could coat my palm with gold, and once the rest
of me faded out, that palm would look like
a pooling sunrise. If I disappeared, my uncertainty
would vanish along with my molecules. Take away
my tenuous wrist, then take away the spit in my
mouth and the grime under my fingernails. Use
the pocket knife strapped to your ankle, or thorns
from the blackberry bush next to my childhood home.
I don’t love blood. But I don’t want to think about
what I don’t love. Living doesn’t reside in wells, or in
a heart, or a glass of milk. I poured it all straight through
my bones. We are lavender and tattoos and sunrise. We are
the castle that passes through fire twice and still didn’t burn.
An insomniac never knows which night will be a long one.
Which one will knock you out, cold-blooded like a good,
long storm. I want to be the reinvention of home to follow
the carving out of personhood, the new rafters that still
reach for the stars but within a good, solid roof. I want
to be the reason to stay with a shipwreck that loves.
My boyfriend likes it when I pretend
to beat him up, so I do it, to show him
who’s boss (in this case, him) and I like it, the chance
to put two bodies in a room, where even
an unseen bruise can be a badge. I remember
the first time a man touched me on
Market Street learning how to punch, to
twist my arm like a cyclone and ever after
my eyes turned from almonds into fists.
My pretty, prizefighting eyes. If I were
a man, I would only learn to fight if it
was for glory. If it was all for the match,
the applause, the thrill. I don’t live for the honey,
but for the bitterness of an orange rind,
or the moments before the bite of a stray cat.
I land my punch on his ribs, my fingers
a loose curl, like the tenuous knot of a fledgling sailor,
my other fist gets trapped in his long fingers,
and I pretend to try to shake it loose. On
these sheets, my bullying is half love,
and half wound.
Aya Elizabeth is a poet living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Typishly, The Write Launch, Up The Staircase Quarterly, Habitat Magazine, Delmarva Review, Twyckenham Notes, Third Point Press, Bluestem, Zone 3, Chaleur Magazine, Cagabi, Virga Magazine, and The Esthetic Apostle.
Illustration by Aliya Smith.