It begins with an immolation.
The girl’s entire body licked
in scorching CGI.
Next, an incantation, dense
in consonants. The audience laughs.
He paid for your ticket in tips,
you covered the Cokes
& the Raisinettes that will scatter
like eyeballs in the cellar scene.
The moment the movie starts
getting out there, getting sexual,
slitting tongues, tonguing slits,
you think of asking him
about his family, & whether
he’ll visit them in Sarajevo
as planned. Meanwhile,
the teens look at tacked-up photos
from happier times. He hugs
his knees to his chest. Backpack
at his feet, he looks like a little kid.
Half an hour later you watch
his jaw: clenched just enough,
smooth in the noisy dark, & you
want to cup his mouth in your hand,
but behind the lips, behind the fragile,
fragile teeth, to the source of his breath,
as dry thorny vines choke & rape
the sulkiest girl.
Soon the sun sets. The cabin lights
flicker obediently. The lanky chick
mentions the impaled cats we found
in scene two & he makes tiny animal
sounds in inadvertent solidarity.
You want a graceful shut-down. Focus
on the smell of popcorn, its soft yellowness.
He reaches for your hand & your body
creaks like clockwork,
like the haunted house itself.
Liv Lansdale studies fiction and sustainable development at Columbia University. She can often be found in the East Village, talking strangers into choosing wind energy providers over gas and electric. She divides her time between Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.