The body as a piece of Mississippi shoreline

Take these pages, and call my name forever – RA

The sound of an aircraft descending, that long
wolf howl of mechanized air, and the screech
of rubber on cement: it leaves a little
of itself behind, latent, languorous, splayed out
like limbs of whores, an invitation
to skid along the city with me. Here in this
god-shaped hole we reach to each other,
heat-seeking, fingertips to pulse.

Here in the red clay your fingerprints leave
paths, marked rows. On my pale skin the bruises
bloom like hyssop: tiered, in brightening shades.
Here where sometime after how y’all doin’ today
and did y’all get enough to eat comes
were y’all here when it happened? and their visions:
the rumble of that letting loose, the great
slow steamroller of dirty water, houses
and whole lives swept away like dust or debris.

This is our first trip away together and
you walk uneasy with me: do you
keep a white girl out this late, in this neighborhood?
I take for granted my privilege of movement.
In the hotel room you close the blinds, press
your lips to mine, your teeth to my chest, your hands
to the blood-pump of me, bear me over
like the strong, dark riptide that I missed.

On the flight home you are quiet and
I am unkempt, drunk too early in the morning
even for this town. This is no rescue craft,
there is no safe rooftop to perch upon now.
At dawn I watched the ravens leave, a crowded lift
of black wings and bright eyes.
When the vultures come, I know your heart will break
in the suck of the wave: the receding paths
will send you, bloated and lifeless, back to this place alone.

Elaine Schleiffer is a writer and poet living in Cleveland, OH. Her work has been published in or is forthcoming in Stylus, Ultraviolet’s Purple Poetry Journal, and Pudding Magazine.

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