“This State,” from Casting Off.
First published in Rattle, issue 21, vol. 10 (Summer 2004).

This State

is splintered, breathless, frenzied, but trying to sound calm,
it’s soy beans underfoot, the baseboard smeared with raspberry jam,
it’s eating scraps of food after they have been chewed and then
disgorged into your outstretched hand, his saliva your saliva,
it’s him reaching for your face in the dark and sinking back relieved,
it’s that first, longed-for kiss, the day you saw him lay aside
his things and walk up and kiss you full on the lips with his
tiny, soft, wet mouth, complete surprise, total abandon, it’s thinking
your mind will never have sharp edges or straight lines again,
it’s being beaten and kicked by a screaming, back-bending,
hair-pulling dervish who later subsides into swollen-eyed,
runny-nosed calm in your arms, it’s the sink full of dishes,
plastic cups, bibs, tea-leaves, peach-peel, pasta shells and peas,
it’s ketchup at every meal and wondering
how a body can survive on no meat or vegetables, ever,
it’s the way his body curves into yours and how your arms
are strong enough to lift all twenty-six pounds of him
over and over again at all the wrong angles,
it’s shocking awake each time he murmurs in his sleep next door,
it’s the pain behind your ribs when you’re apart,
it’s seeing your life upended, its contents strewn around by a
tornado, and picking your way through the wreckage with no time
to care because something like passion is driving you on.

Read review of Casting Off by Richard Swanson here.

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ISBN: 978-1-893311-90-9; paper $10.00