BY MEGAN FERNANDES
— for sam, on the title of my next collection of poems
sam says you can’t name your book good boys without a dog
but sam doesn’t know that i am the dog
i am the ultimate mutt and i am telling him this story
at the bar called college hill tavern which looks like a front
for some operation where all the bar stools appear as if
they were staged in under ten minutes and
the girl with the fake lashes knows
i like a double gin and i am telling sam
that i am a dog who was converted
when i was seventeen and my mother found an essay
about how i was in love with a girl
and there was a portishead reference
in case you need me to date it
and this was way before the liberation of the young and the white
twins on youtube who come out to their dad
and everybody cries and transforms.
when i see those kids all i think is that they never had parents
who were immigrants and who sent you to a lady
and told you that you had to solve it all
in one session because this therapy was expensive.
it wasn’t so traumatic. rather funny. and i remember the couch
there were multiple couches and i had to choose a spot and i sat
on the couch furthest from her and this wasn’t the first nice lady
who looked at me like i was a dog
and sam, when i said it is called good boys
what i meant was that i was a good boy
and loved good boys
and good men and still love them
but you see, i was seventeen and alone
and nobody gave me anything except one book by dickinson
and she was so neat, so precise, so human
and i wasn’t. i just wasn’t.
i was just a dog. i wasn’t even that good.
BY MEGAN FERNANDES
Your shyness is like a science— a light lapsing, shoulders
of stalk silk, small fruit where your ears should live
and your eye, light like a current traveling across the wood of the table.
When you talk in circles, it reminds me of Lonnie Johnson.
You make small imitations of my voice. You turn my pout
into a little character. Like a children’s book. Like the one
about a tiger who came to tea right at a child’s bedtime.
I let you do things. I let you order. I tell you about the tumors
singing to each other in my mother’s brain. You say something
about your sun, the son, the moonless spitting in the night,
your sadness like a cradled apricot in the palm of my hands.
Your hands are rough when I cup them, we compare lines—
all healthy heartbreaks etched across our lunar palms,
all captive pathways of animals and hairlines we have loved.
What is a line anyways. A small horizon of age. A pursuit.
Your leg gently in rest, the sweet citrus of drink between us. The air
is vulnerable, like any small tease might hurt, so we are careful
with each other’s pasts. We mostly talk about what is in front of us
which is nothing we can really have, which must exist parallel
to the lives we have built like a rabbit’s ear blushing
in the night, the blood shooting upwards to its apex, its heaven,
the twin celestial leaves atop its head.
Here I am,
your crisis in white.
With flowers up and down my dress,
with a gold cuff digging into my arm.
What part of our bodies are not fauna.
What part of us is actually here.
Megan Fernandes is an Assistant Professor of English at Lafayette College. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Tin House, Ploughshares, Chicago Review, Guernica, the Common, and BOAAT, among many others. Her second book of poems, Good Boys, is forthcoming from Tin House Books in January 2020. She lives in New York City. To learn more, visit meganfernandes.com.
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