—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—