BY CAITS MEISSNER
The girl is trying to say she’s not a body as he bites into the scoop
of tender meat behind her knee. There is evidence the body is real:
lilac vein protruding at wrist, lamp’s light chasing skin.
It’s said the spirit can travel at night — her dress: an illusion
of sky slumped on floorboards. On days when the earth’s laid claim,
she ticks off how many clouds can be eaten in place of bread, pulling cotton
from ceiling while he parts her legs, flooding with the damp flush of blood.
Proof she is real, he says, taking iron to tongue like Sunday wine.
She is the wine. She is a faucet, a river, an ocean on which to craft a boat,
a dream — a dream! Remember decorating her Bougainvillea toes?
Back porch door unhinged, grass wet, chasing boys whose smiles broke
the girls like yolk, broke under dress, then laughter, then the silence of stones.
The tentacle-tail aches when winds change, stiffens up: a bad limb.
At night the monstrous thing unravels from its curl in her underpants,
she rubs it with butter, soaks, spreads out each scale across the tub like lily pads,
holds it like a baby or heaves, spits, tries to wrench it from skin, leaves it in the gutter.
Inside: she is escaping form. Inside: a wall of rain. Inside: sloshing tide as
he searches for the bottom, which is endless, not knowing that she is also the sail.
Caits Meissner is the author of The Letter All Your Friends Have Written You (2012, Well&Often), co-written with Tishon Woolcock, and Let It Die Hungry (forthcoming 2016, The Operating System). Her poetry has been widely published in journals and anthologies including Drunken Boat, The Offing, The Literary Review, and has been received awards from the Pan-African Literary Forum, the Ja-Nai Foundation and City College's The Jerome Lowell DeJur Prize in Creative Writing. With a significant history in community arts, Caits is currently Writer-in-Residence at Bronx Academy of Letters, a creative writing instructor in a women's prison and a part-time lecturer at The New School University. For more, visit www.caitsmeissner.com.