You seem like you have a developed a
patient practice
memorizing our delicate contours;
first your fingers,
then your eyes,

trace gummy  worm spines                taste it
women’s arched backs
soft wet flesh,
mouthful of “yes”
near the bed frame
as they fall into you,
as they open knees
as they open attachment,
as they open
gash and you  
stiffen      you watch
with now closed lesions

              you were just a drinking fountain

and they bleed irresponsibly
but remember
some mouth full of
indifference,
an old word or two
you threw like a heavy blanket ,
a band-aid     

  “no”

at their scapula and
they straighten back.
they stay  in bed as you
are (finished) a  leashed laceration,
tied to some place we can’t guess
with sleeves and scripts and
dispassionate attachment, chin tilted towards street,
a swallow that was almost a word but you’re on
one bad laconic streak
so you just sniff the air and
don’t offer them water.

they are holding space
on the floor,
Indian style,
in case you need warmth.
you have a coat so you
politely decline,
hand them their hat,
put on your shirt,
call them a ride.
bare feet, gather their socks,
tilted backs to check for rogue earrings,
grab the scarf from the doorknob
near the door frame,
(remembering the gentle “no”)
moving backs,
wrapped in sweaters, pea coat shields
as they walk
quickly, quietly
(forgive the boot heel)
a clacking “oh”                       
away from you
that isn’t felt
yet.

years have gone by and
what lovely new spines
they have grown:
unbending,
unending bone,
untended decimation,
once curved now
inflexible.
once swaying effortlessly
like reeds in your lake,
now planted firmly in the dry
“no”
spines that are walking,
sauntering,
coming back for an earring,
for a line they forgot.
machete sacrums.
nerves like fighters
marinading in indignity,
curbed blood lust,
“oh.”

so many years have gone by.
but they are spines that are
razor sharp and
ready to write
you.
they will use no names
but you will know,
what they mean,
they are the
right kind of seething,
how they use the word
fucking
with teeth, but still somehow
lovingly.

“backbones”

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