HOOD returns, with the wonderful Ashley-Elizabeth Best

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What Are You Sorry For?

It was the month of cicada bloom. August mostly cool except for the few days that were hot and moist like a fresh chest wound. A dry buzz-rattled across York River Valley as hillsides of trees wheezed in their dexterous stretches.

We’re sitting in her psychiatrists office as I take quick glances out the window to the river. She’s telling him she is struggling to cope with her own sobriety, that she gets so angry that she thinks she is ruining her place in my life. My eyes wander back from the window and give an obligatory nod no. I may have lied, but it didn’t matter because no one asked. The clock above the psychiatrists head runs to the half hour. He ups her dosage another 100mg citing very little progress over the last month. We walk to the car in silence. Before I can start the car she is busy devouring the doctor’s words. Her hands flame through the air out of her command.

At home I sit down in the living room and she departs for the kitchen. What have I taken up in my thirties? An appetite for joints. There’s no connection between disease and healing here. The burden of proof always rests with me. This has made our years, my daily devotions to her. I glance back to the kitchen, the severe surface of her face reveals a longing nothing can satisfy. I can here her chanting, nothing ever feels good, nothing, nothing.

We did not begin honourably. She was married to my coworker, a large man whose great expanse overpowered her small frame. He was violent and she left, but not before we started seeing each other, setting up one situation before exiting the former. I could feel all the little amputations this flight must have caused her.

She used to think I wanted to graze a thigh that was soft like silk, but what I really want is stubble, tiny divots of stretch marks, the small fragments of her body’s life works. Once I get her clothes off I become lost amongst the scarred road map of her body. She said her father was a chef and she used his knives to cut herself; one notch for each place he touched, and one jab for each place he didn’t. She grants me the friendship of her thighs but I no longer have the patience to keep up the story.

I’m emptied of everything that can be saved.

I crack my ribs for you to listen

I can remember before: my swank, an elephantine effusion, the porous borders of my curves a widening threat. Words came out as sentences leaned the wrong way. Once I was a moon assembled

in its place, beside beaded stars of absent passion. I cannot feel the old bustling vitality of yesterday.

I sense wrong, taste with my lungs, tongue slides it on. Late November: I took on a shed of trees with my car, inflicted metal on wood. I hoped to be a dead deer split uneven, stomach fanned open, thrown, moored from the wreckage, my body struggling to understand, a ballerina killdeer. Someone screams, the witnesses’ rigmarole antics ensue. The death choice came easy, and in that in between shadow

crossing, nerves grip each cell, a shifting landscape of pain. Hurried birds trouble the calm, I gasp,

fountaining blood, the purgatory of air.

In Kind

He left her but she still looks after his son.

Not a forever kind of love, he texts, so

she keeps a weather-eye open, reminds

herself why a break needs a cast.

She designs for motion, men chasing

midriff, the unarrived moans, examining

the words of his amusement.

The songs on the radio are digging themselves

up again, Amy Winehouse breaking into a slow

swoon, the syllabic hierarchies of her reckless

love.

She always knew she was the best little bit on the side

To Know About the Fire

Truth is, she’s a late in life oopsy-baby,

proud of what her body can do, toes

pointed to Jesus. She wants more than

she gives, careful to keep her secrets

to herself.

To know about the fire, the mock

distinctions—everything saved will

be lost.

That pugnacious presence, her belief

you haven’t lived until you’ve showered

at a Husky Gas Station.

Everyone’s heard rumours of her travels,

the coloured strobing of a coastal sunset,

yellow warblers dickering in the verdant

mane of a tree.

She knows nothing of these vocalizations,

instead wears out the crotch of her jeans,

province by province.

&

later in the dark of the bus

grieves the poetry of ancient

place names, huddles in their

sacrifice.

A final calving at her center.

Ground Your Arms

He’s throwing off the how did

I get so lucky look from the bar.

My mother knows how to attract

men, though I suspect she’s afraid

of what they need.

Articulating sentences with her hands,

medicated ramblings fluid into a story.

I decide then to cry at the end of the day.

Not with fresh makeup.

She’s shit talking everyone and not

giving a fuck. I don’t know what to

say, I don’t want to know what to say.

A little long in the tooth, her stone bed

of a waist licked painless, she says,

you’re missing from me. I’m sorry for

what I say when I’m hungry, I could

have loved you more but I doubt

you will suffer less.

She’s grounded her arms as her man

approaches, like the head of an

avenging angel.

I always turn away from my words to her.

 

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