not about anyone you know

by Sarah Caulfield

it starts like this: 
glitter-slick solidarity, elbows in my ribs in the nightclub
and hysterical laughter loud as a distress flare in the night,
the smear of lipstick on my teeth you rub off, your thumb in my mouth and 
your hair in the light, and the light is good here, it gilds you into an icon 
something other and terrible, a martyred saint with a bloody halo 
glimmers your skin to cheap gilt 
and i wonder if i put my hands on you if it’d come off on me 
if i’d be golden by association

it goes wrong like this: 
you voice going evasive on the phone, hollering at someone who i don’t know
who’s that sweetheart and you go oh just someone and change the subject
and what can i say to that really what can i say 
and you stop smiling when i hand you a cup of tea, 
tension ratchets up your spine so i’ve stopped trying to trace it with my fingertips
oedipus gouged his eyes out to unsee something terrible but this isn’t greece
this is nothing, this happens every day, this is a tragedy in minor key
and it goes don’t leave don’t leave don’t leave

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