You think I find the fish a beauty. They reek
and still they swim
like souls in heat.
You think living alone would make me less
ashamed. No. I lock the bathroom door,
sit on the toilet with my legs crossed,
hang a towel over the mirror
and look away. I’ve powdered
myself for 366 days and plucked out
each bad hair, made my face
grace emptiness like a doily.
But I can see the germs quibbling
along the sink, the heater’s demanding bang.
As a girl, I stripped my clothes off in the car,
pretending to be asleep.
Praise was the hooked worm of a stranger.
I’d climb to the window-seat, distend
my eleven year old belly, distract a passerby
from what was proper.
That’s when I smelled it all at once,
the clove of something dying in my armpits,
the fate of all the mice you killed for me,
their tails now wriggling out
in silver hairs too fast to catch
them with a tweezer. Nothing drowns
out all the horror fluids that reside here,
coming and going
like tenants I have to grin for. Time
is pungent the way I ripen. Only the mirror
does not stink. You know, a widow’s
just the wife of her reflection.
I dreamt up the color of my cheeks
so I could deepen the bowl behind them,
fill it with the excrement of your affairs,
out of breath excuses,
your sweet nothings that aftershaved my ears.
You got a kick from having sex with me
whenever you came back.
I didn’t mind—your disappearance
let me dam myself in surpluses
of logic. Now that you’re dead
sometimes I imagine you
getting eternal head from the brightest
orange koi fish in Japan.
The last praise I will receive
will be the lack of flies adorning me.
From your liquid world where you
must be the gas that gags
the eel and fills the ocean with purge
fluid, rusted foam. You say there’s no such thing
as boredom in a dream
but I have sat in sleep a lifetime,
my face copying itself a thousand times
into fibrous slippery funguses.
By day, they sprout from furniture.
I dust them safely until soon
when the light burns out of reach
and nobody will change it.
Cheers, my last supper
as lady reason: I ate the cotton balls,
I swear, drank the spirits of your old
cologne, probed the mascara wand
through my esophagus, beckoning
the worm back to my lip.