7.01 / January 2012

The Inexact Nature

listen to this poem

Not sure how to begin, I will say, during college,
for seven months two fellow freshman
ran a prostitution ring from their dorm.

The building from which they operated,
brokering a kind of ritualized surgery
wherein the young pressed upon the young
to relieve valved pressure, was a neo-gothic affair,

architecture which surely cast an air of inducement
over the boys nearing it stiffly, on a Wednesday
or Sunday, palming the stink of fifty-dollar bills.

I had a friend in the room above them
whom I visited often. It was a difficult position to be in,
both of us then Christian, lying face down on the floor,
anchored by the heft of urge and shame, ignoring
our open physics textbooks to listen to what trembling
coursed from below. When my friend, inevitably,

excused himself, I would hold my hands
in an altogether fleshy prayer, and it would be untrue
to say I did not profit from that ring of prostitutes.

And when it was broken up, nothing
was resolved; my desire stayed inexact,
the breath on the pillow continued as my own.
And since then, I have been a burden to myself
in the eyes of others more than once.

Eric Higgins has poems appearing in or forthcoming from Prairie Schooner, Zone 3, The Greensboro Review, and Conjunctions. He is a doctoral student in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston, where he was recently awarded the Inprint Verlaine Poetry Prize.
7.01 / January 2012