Lit by Burning Bridges
“We should bang,” Jolene said.
She stood in the hallway outside Will’s bathroom, staring him down with a gaze so serious that she might have just told him his mother had died. In her hand, she had a blue solo cup full of – she actually didn’t know what was in it. When Dylan asked if she wanted another drink, she handed him her cup and said, “Yeah, top it off with whatever.” The booze stewed in the cup, smelling like Fireball Whisky submersed in AriZona Ice Tea.
Will choked on his drink. “What?”
“Did I stutter?”
“N– no but–“
“But what? It’s a simple yes or no question. Should we or should we not bang?”
The two of them stepped aside to let their friend, Garrett, and his girlfriend pass. Will leaned in and whispered, “Are you drunk?”
“No,” she replied with a crooked grin. “I had two shots of tequila and you know me, I’ve got the tolerance of a coal miner. Unlike you. You have the tolerance of a milk-lappin’ kitten. That’s why I’m asking before you finish sipping your . . .” she trailed off, grabbed the bottle from his hand. Jo squinted at the label. “Cranberry Mike’s Hard.” She scoffed and Will defensively snatched his drink back.
“These are fucking delicious, okay?”
Jo smirked, but didn’t comment. “So what’ll it be? We bangin’ or not?”
“Now?” Will glanced down the hall into his living. He watched his roommate, Dylan, sit on the arm of the sofa and schmooze with other party guests.
It’s in an echoing empty pool, perhaps; or it’s sacrifices in bathtubs and gin-stained linen — I don’t know. It’s often wet. Or my hair wrapped around his steering wheel, my pupils blown out the size of gunshot holes, and I shed my skin and it sits in the back seat, unfamiliarising itself with his hands. And numbness blossoms up my thighs, around my hips like a crown.
I guess I always slope towards him, no matter how level the ground.
It’s hard that way. How our distance is a slur, unfair. How in the future he holds my head down in the river until the bubbles stop, but at least before that I have an excuse to touch and grab — his broad knuckles and long fingers wound against my scalp, his exhalation smoky in the winter air. But my fists stop forming after a while in the cold and I can’t grasp him; his rings too wet with blood, my hands illiterate as loam.
In the place where the water knows me as soon as I go under, and we reflect each other, when I go silent from him it’s a quiet afternoon in childhood, grey-blue, cursed with an early moon. And when he jerks my head back up I sputter like a rain-stained roof, and the river holds me like he promised and it even knows my name.
He tells me he loves me and it speaks to my affinity for point-blank range.
At the Bottom of It
Next door’s putting feelers through the bay
window, and chrysanthemums out the back
are nosing inward over a picket. A pitch
of attention’s risen. Strings of questions get
pegged up for airing between neighbours.
Late for the year, palps take root, thrusting
through with a feeling for fine-grained tattle.
Tit-bits are raked up, too. But to throw light
on it, that eludes anyone with feelers –
secrets, the length of the green pond floor.
Submersion and sinking and
Freezing of time
Engulfed by emotion and
Strangled by rhyme.
A wave. An eruption
I’m plunged into hell
Peering up at the sky
From the pit of a well.
Submerged in this feeling
That can’t be defined
The shock of the blow
Taking over my mind
Unable to order the
Thoughts in my head
In a daze. In a trance.
Rereading the letter
Again and again
In desperate search of
A cure for the pain.
Is burning the words on the page
As silence gives birth to
A terrifying rage.
Submersion and sinking
I’m flooded by words
And drowning in emptiness
Unseen and unheard.