TO THE ALIENS, LETTER #1
(a mossy weather, my poached heart:
dawn sliding its fingers over the windowsill)
Remember that time you combed vomit
from my hair into the bathroom sink,
your gray fingers a transparency
over my mother’s? Too young to hold
my hair back properly, dry heaves
fading as shampoo perfumed
my scalp—do you remember.
That first rehearsal of intimacy—
a mossy feeling in my throat,
churlish hives ratting my skin.
Remember how soft—how through—
When I ate an entire corncob,
husk and all. Out of spite. Out of ardor.
I woke, feverish, alone in the field’s
darkness. You spoke my interior name,
the one made of splinters. You came
as, perhaps, I hoped, pushing your
triangular mouths to mine and sucked,
so gently, my stomach clean.
When I stood you were nothing
again as you always are when I try
to see. Clearly—
The artist said to paint it out.
As if you were a sweaty dream.
The palmist said my aura was in shambles.
As if you were tornadoes.
The therapist, the tarot-reader, the intuitive,
the locksmith, the bag boy, the landlady,
the waitress, the roto-call, the nightly mockingbird—
my confessions fell against them like knock-knock jokes.
Their canned, feeble laughter. The rising scent
of watermelon, pale and sweet, as they backed away.
Remember how I peed in the alley
behind the gay bar and no one attacked?
You ringed my squatting body,
singing happy birthday
in your flute-bee-wing-fire language,
protectorates as usual
but slightly bored—remember,
you began: no witness without
squalor, no harbor without portage.
No trade without trade.
It’s time, you said, remember?
You began with my hands.
is the author of the poetry collection Glass Harvest (Autumn House Press) and co-founder of the Charlottesville Reading Series in Virginia. Her poems have won multiple awards, including a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, and have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Sycamore Review, Smartish Pace, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. She teaches English at Middle Tennessee State University.