9.12 / December 2014


In my family, we talk about sex at the dinner table.

Over the meals my stepfather orchestrates, a kind of making love, my mother casually enquires who I’m fucking these days. The answer is always the same:

a pretty boy with lighter skin than mine           racehorse ribbed, all straining torso
throat and fingers          greyhound delicate     a boy built to race inside me.

After dinner, my mother and I take care of the dishes together—I wash; she dries.
I have come home from college with pierced nipples. She shakes her head.

Piercings are a sub thing, she says.

So is rough sex, the dinner table talk kind, but only if you bear the badges
of your passion with you after, shameful, on your skin.

I have made use of the ball gag she gifted me when she left the scene.
I have used it to quiet the catholic schoolboy who never stops talking.
He is a year older than I am.

When he arches his back,        the bone cage        under his chest ripples    his skin
like clear water. I can’t help    imagining him    beautifully quiet          and drowned.

In the attic chest:

               leather coils nesting like snakes
               she keeps to remind herself that men
               cannot hurt her anymore.

With these implements of pain and pleasure, my mother kept sex strictly professional. For a decade, she beat men in expensive soundproof rooms.

She has shown me the 10-page questionnaire potential clients would fill out.
She never worked with men who admitted to fantasizing about their mothers.

Her first husband was not my father.

Her first husband was the first man I called “daddy.”
He touched my body with such tenderness, it almost wasn’t wrong.

The sex we talk about at the dinner table is always the consensual kind.

After the divorce, I saw my mother’s first husband

               every other weekend
                              and on alternating holidays.

                              There is some dispute over what happened in the bathtub.

I never asked

               i. the thoroughbred boys,
               ii. the racehorse boys,
               iii. the boys with slender canine bones

to touch me gently. I found the teeth in their hungry mouths.
With sullied hands I sought their sharpness.

Amber Rambharose is an Assistant Editor at YesYes Books and the Editor-in-Chief of Forthcoming Poets. Her poems have appeared in Burntdistrict, Thrush Poetry Journal, Whiskey Island Magazine, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, she now reads, writes, and freelances in Philadelphia.
9.12 / December 2014