your used jeep is the first thing we ride in. tunneling your town, two girls, july air coming through windows. your system loud as it could go. rattling truck doors. gnats determined to escape summer, catch our mouths during laughs. styrofoam cups of lemonade flung out open windows come back to kiss our cheeks. a single hand on the wheel, the other bent for the smoking thing in your mouth, your thigh close to my thigh, the space between skin made holy by every pothole we tripped over beneath us.
when i am alone with myself, a pillow between me and a mechanic thing going fast for my clitoris, when i am alone with myself, humping pillows like a maniac teenage boy, imagining my ass squeezing in and out of you so anxious i cannot wait for you, those times when the holy space is between my middle part and muffled vibration- i hate you for reducing me to this. i want to scream your name to you and break your spine in parts. i want you face down before me to make an altar of your back, hurt you for every time you’ve hurt me– the men you’ve been with openly, the men in photographs you show me. i want to kill you: one hand around your neck, another pulling you down into me and scream at you for not loving me. the women you fuck in secret. i am bored with the sanctimonious.
harlem, 1989 i am wearing a favorite dress, and my grandmother is dead. cousins remind me to say hello to my great grandmother buried just below the daughter they are lowering on top of her. just enough dirt before they pack my grandmother in- how they fit her fat body in that box. the cold earth separating mother from daughter– even in death women are not allowed to touch. i think it must be religious- that dirt- forbidding them reunion. what would become of my great grandmother’s hand, what, if she stretched it through her death box and past the holy space to rub her only daughter’s back?
charleston, 1994 relatives have forced me into a dress. white gloved old women fan me, but i am not crying. in the casket, they’ve forced Nana into a virgin’s costume. she looks like an elderly bride. i pray silver sequins for me and Nana, cheap, lopsided strings of pearls. they’ve stuffed one side of her bra with tissue paper to pad the cup. i remember washing the holy space, the valley of diseased breast removed, where cancer grew until she was shaven head and poisoned apple. the summer i spent dressing her wound, gauze soaked with blood and pus before i could reach for tape. her sad apple of a head lowered. her body leaning out into the world toward its missing part.
i download pictures you send me: an ass hanging out of red underwear two breasts in a red push-up. i want to reply to the email, “i would have preferred black.” you preface your pictures with explanations of positions and postures. you are ashamed despite the digital canopy. i bring my face closer. pixels formatted to screen. no matter how many times i run my hands over it or you, i am reminded of the holy space i cannot touch, the places i cannot reach.
i am looking at our two a.m. texts
you ask me if it’s over
i think of our first ride together
times you told me about those stupid boys
my own husband on top of me
my grandmothers buried like mattress sets
things i love and hate
your face and you among them
beautiful things that hurt me
the vietnamese lady and
her alcohol stuffed cotton balls
smoothed over my eyebrows
the cool of liniment oil after
trusting my sight to her approach
the hot wax spread
the stick as it presses into my forehead
the wall art she makes of my face
she pats the strips in place
settles me before she pulls the paper from my skin
tweezers and scissors to shape the corners
more hot wax over the other eye
beautiful things that hurt me
the holy space between my brows
she applies wax there, too
pulls it from its root
holds it up to the light
inspects it to discard it
like you do my heart, love,
like you do my heart.