Poetry & Prose


—After “Do You Speak Virgin” by Analicio Sotelo


This afternoon is some hell:


The sun, a proud prick, wears high-tops

and catches in my eye. An egg cracks


in my mind, glaire spilling over

into my tear ducts. My fists


clench. A sour wave springs to

my stomach, acidic as an apple core.


I’ll admit the following: it was this afternoon

and none of the others. Some thrill from the jut


of the hip. The soft neck. The powerful

jaw. Half-crumpled notes in the roof


of the mouth, careful in delivering

the verdict. That blinding scent


of old newspaper. I’m contained,

a yolk of yellow yearning.


Fork it over. The pink quirk of the lip. The

cold, pointed nose. The fingertips.


I’m not afraid of love.


I’m afraid of a forced smile and

a rusty laugh trapped


in the throat. A nervous, open

door and white-hot lights on


the stage. The heavy blue

blanket covering my legs.


I’m afraid of jumbled limbs and

kneaded dough. Bitter Jamaican


blue coffee in the morning that coats

the throat and sticks there all day.


You know what it looks like:


The reddish-yellow lump of romance,

heavy in the heart and stomping


in the arteries. The virgin is here

to tell you all the short-comings


of space. About the conversation between

bodies, the touching of two shadows on


the pavement. A hand to hold and moist

dirt to eat. Listen, I’ll admit the following:


it was this afternoon and then all of the

others. The same sun, with chapped lips and  


gaudy sneakers. The same ruddy reddish-yellow

of my cheeks. Have me on the


back-burner; I can stagger on the edge

of a moment and savor it forever—

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