The girl is thin and quiet and wise. She learned to love you
from her mother. They rocked on the embroidered chair
and when snow fell she tucked her pants into her socks. She
smelled her hair and kissed her eyebrow and whispered nothing
like it was song.
The girl would fit her body, scalp to toes, in the porcelain walls of
a moldy bathtub. Her hair would slide down her skin and tuck away
in the drain. These days I carve away the urge to sit inside and press
my fingers against the cracks, exhale dust and fill them with broth
and honey, like my mother would.
My body is bigger and hurts like a woman. These days I wake
with your eyes, hungry and reeling for flesh like it doesn’t yearn, like it
doesn’t seek. The girl slips away and I grip her with breaking fingers
and she screams off like a train. You hold my thigh with a thought
and I realize you love me as body.
What a small life lived in this bathtub, so small I bend my knees now.
Mom leaves a glass of wine and a towel outside the door and taps her
knuckles against the wood. My finger pads prune and water grows cool and
low. When I sleep my body will be cold and naked and curled around itself
like a seedling, rolled and drooping and breathing.
And it loves me as it were my mother.
It loves me as I were a child.