What Am I Drinking?
Today, kerosene. Toxic sting weirdly soothing. This is no adolescent stunt, no high school boys in button-up anime shirts unbuttoned, spitting fire to impress unimpressed girls. You know the kind. No, I eat matches. Cradle this lantern belly. Shepherd the moths fluttering around my lips, paper thin lambs. They just want swallowed by light. Torn open, I’d be dazzling: One million torches. Icelandic volcanoes. The Chinese New Year.
She asked, “What’ll it be honey?”
The bags beneath her eyes sighed, regal
twin beds where dried bouquets of
migrant lovers slept. I ordered lemonade
with a slice of lemon and squeezed
the fruit above my mouth, remembering
how to kiss. Out the window,
moths stumbled shyly into each other
like teenagers. I waved her back over.
She asked, “What can I get for you sugar?”
I gestured out through the glass.
Her mouth was a crescent moon.
“Of course,” she said, pulling a jar from her apron.
Out in the wild air, she blessed their wings
as a few of those gauzy comets floated
down into the container, glowing like
all saints’ bowed heads. She offered
the glimmering jar. Is this enough?
her eyes asked, wide and sparking.
I mouthed my answer, lips spreading into
a paper flower, a shared bed, a lemonade kiss
hard and sweet as sugar.
Days, we drift to the waves like the taste of salt in air. At sunset we part ways, reconvene when the air grows cool, goes down like lemonade. Lightning bugs float among dunes. Seagull feathers litter the pier where I lay out, twine my ankles around the posts, waiting. Funny, the name “suit” given to the dripping cloth cut below my navel. Where you place your mouth on me like an ear to conch shells, straining, listening for lapping water. Caramel apples on chapped lips. Stars splitting the sky above our gritty backs. Anointed, soaked with brine.