I Go Back to Myself, April 2014 by Destiny O. Birdsong
And every time, I say this is the last time, now
that we know what travel can grift from the body.
She is naked as I am now, but drunk. In bed.
The place dark, the bamboo blinds like split brooms.
A few weeks before, he’d slipped in using his key,
skittered the dog waiting at the top of the stairs,
watered the mums he’d left on the counter,
put away the wine. He doesn’t mention
coming to the room and she can’t remember.
But this night, every courtesy is whittled
to her littlest part, its radical pink, for once,
indistinguishable from everything: darkness;
his shirt; singed mothwings splayed
on the lampshade like pencil shavings;
wet receipts stuck to the bottom of the vase.
Persephone emerged each spring with the inventory
of her kingdom still clinging to her ankles,
and there were whispers that she grew to love
what we never wanted: swollen Easter fruit,
its uninvited flesh blue as the vein
bisecting the corridor of my inner thigh.
Each time I go back, I want to sit
with the body. I want to say, “One day you’ll fold
into nights devoid of liquor and lose the taste.
Your joints will ache; your body will try to leave
in ways only your ancestors understand.”
I never think to tell him, “Stop”; tell her “Wake up.”
She’s still afraid of other women, endings, and the dead.
And so I leave, but with the door ajar
as if to say, “Beloved, what has happened
to me shouldn’t happen to you. But until
it does, there is nothing I can tell you.”