I recognised my body on the
fifth floor of the Tate. All that messy
yellow paint. Legs and arms spread out
like vomit. I was twenty and breathing hard
into a paper bag: Sorry, I’m nervous…
He took my hand: Don’t worry little lamb
chop! I slipped out of my skin and
never went back.
You told me life is just an endless
corridor for barreling broken
bodies through. I laughed.
Call it nerves.
Call it me
us to fall in love.
Remember that night we turned on the faucet
and emptied our bodies onto the street?
I’m back in my room, watching a man sleep.
The scars on his forearms aren’t as scary any more.
They look smaller,
kind of funny
kind of like
I place our arms side by side
a ladder of keloids and white lines.
I ingest him into a gelatin hug
and the darkness grows darkness around itself.
You never let me talk about your first time
with that man whose name sounds like dirt.
His deadbolt stare burning our checkered school skirts.
He talks about his wife,
how he’s angry she makes him masturbate.
And we nod, like we’re not 16.
Like we understand.
Like we’re his council.
Some guy told me my skin tastes salty
and I didn’t eat fast food for a month.
I believed him
everything that seems like love
and that other man
who hewed a passage through my body
– that was love
Else why would I put up with it?