The Men and Women I Slept With

by Leah Tieger

If this list were found in millennia
like the fragmented torso of Ozymandius,
I would prefer to wrap their names
around my lips than wrap my lips
around the dry stone of him. What word
could I recite that way except
the exclamation of a single vowel.
If he were a woman, I could move my tongue
into letters against the marble of her.
Recite Rilke, recite Shelley. You must
empty your mouth of other people’s bodies.
Then what soft flesh would I turn to,
what imperfect vacancy but my own.
Would I lick the wet from my fingers.
Would I warm at the searing light
of roadside motel signs, at the pink shadow
they cast, and know this is my home.
A large bed in a small room. A lamp.
A bedside table. Enough light to see by
and a place to lay the phallus, silicone
instead of stone, a place to keep the damp thing
from collecting the lint of rough, cheap linen,
of bedspread and the stories it could tell.
Dear Penthouse, I could die in a room like this
and never be found. There are so many
and they are all the same, just like bodies,
waiting to be filled, then waiting
to be emptied, made only to be left.

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