Three men at the bar are talking
about a recent hunting trip. One
keeps using the pronoun she, and
I can’t figure out if he’s referring
to a girlfriend or a moose. He’s
using words like scope and rut
and trophy and I feel completely
invisible. He’s talking about how
she got a little annoyed and you’d
think all I’d have to do is listen
for the gunshot to figure it out,
but that might not be enough.
So much of it seems like it could
go either way: How’d you get her
in the truck? It was a big project,
let me tell you. We finally got her
back to camp and dressed her.
You should have seen the gut pile.
But now they are talking about
how much she weighs, and more
is better, so I know they’re talking
about a moose, and even when
the guy says I felt bad when I saw
her reaction, he is still talking
about a moose and I don’t think
there ever was a girlfriend and
when men talk together, it seems
they mostly talk about shooting
things. When I talk with girlfriends
I mostly talk about how unseen
I feel, like that’s a bad thing.
Another overcast day. Alone
at home, my future feels like
a damp cellar with no door.
The only dry thing is a cat,
and she shares her dry
with me. She tucks herself
into the valley of my lap,
and I pretend I am loved
and not just warm,
and that this is enough.
Once, I was all ripeness
and hot skin—waiting
for someone to brush
against me, sticky as a burr
and as hard to dislodge.
Giddy with a new man’s
name framed in my smile
for everyone to see.
The last time someone’s
bare shoulder pillowed
my head was so long ago,
it feels like it might actually
have been the last time.
But every time I’ve given
away a piece of my solitude,
I’ve wanted it back
I remember how I craved
an empty bed, and turned
the knuckles of my spine
towards the man I wanted
gone. Now, age has licked
the sugar from my skin.
It tangles its fingers
in my hair and yanks
the gray down each shaft.
Time is the tongue
I will dissolve on.
My head, a pile of cinders
on the white pillow case,
cat curled in the notch
behind my bent knees.