Nepenthe

We did all the motions: drive, eat, read, talk, fuck. We did them
like normal. Like every day was everyday. Only long-distance.

Never good, those calls. Disease, distress on the line. Listening
to her die. Your eyes the only things propping me up.

A warren of rotten light in my head you smoothed. Riding
in the car at 3 AM with me through snow. Shhh, baby, calm down.

Always ice and snow that winter; feeling like Kay in Lapland.
Never-life. Me forgetting how to melt. I waded into you

for safety, trying to drown—your soft arms insistent, kept me
moving. And skating in the tree corridor at dusk clutching your coat,

big grey cashmere man’s coat from the thift shop, a lead pipe
I dove under with the wind. To blot myself out. Concuss me.

The heat of your skin under my hands a jolt. And your lips, steady
in the darkroom at night, my hands on your hips, at your buckle.

The night I can’t remember you said was the most incredible,
but no amount of burning liquor could heat my blood.

Instead, the mad bottles we drained ad infinitum helped me out
of immediacy, into deep rivers of hush and hum. Vodka, rum.

Siân Killingsworth is a writer living in Northern California who holds an MFA from The New School. Siân’s work has been published in journals such as The Oakland Review, the Columbia Poetry Review, and Mudfish.

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