You first saw me in the gutter
and then again under the bars
of the sewage grate – the shimmer
of my grime caught your eye. Leech-like,
you’d been searching for a new life. You wished
to pilfer a few lives with your long fingers,
try them on, cycle through each until you found
one you liked. Crouching at the grate, you drew
me from the waste in silver slivers and draped
me over yourself. Streaked by an oily rainbow,
our portrait shined in a nearby scum pool.
Ragged boy adorned with ragged man –
both of us a composition of wet strips of cloth and skin –
your surly grin, my sodden body hanging, arched
over your shoulder, imitation of your smile’s curve.
You slurred our image with your feet
while splashing home, where, under a half-moon, you sewed
me into your clothes. Your fingers bled over my thread
cage but you let the blood run and dry in my sludge,
creating a crust the color of raw, rock-wrenched garnet.
This allowed you to lie about emerging from bloodbaths
when you wore me through the streets, almond eyes
weak sieves to cruder passersby about whom I whispered
they know your lie and don’t care. It wasn’t long
before my influence had you yielding
beneath your sown shell and my raspy murmurs
became your prison, as, caged inside each other,
we traveled. I assumed your voice
while you walked on, homesick and searching
for solace from my presence in pastures, others’ eyes, stars.
Helene Lovett is a writer from New Orleans. She has previously been published in The Cadaverine. She may be seen spiritedly swatting mosquitoes on her front porch on Sunday evenings or jogging through the damp air in a loving battle against the humidity of her home.