by Sarah Matthes

Some days I wake up
and it is terrifying.

A dream of you is only “good”
while its happening — then

its just pissing with an open door, missing
the deeply imagined thing,

wondering how will I ever know
if I really came in my sleep?

You’re so enthusiastic.
Your midwife roommate

has used your dehydrator
for her clients’ many placentas.

The machine is clean and damp on the drying rack,
you could proceed, you could make your beef jerky,

but instead you must call and let me know
about the dehydrated placenta.

This is one way that you tell me
that you love me.

Another is when you leave a package in your freezer
clearly marked:

I appreciate that.

But sometimes affection
is a salve we rub over affliction,

like the way you take the unknown calls
that come into my phone from 609 numbers,

and never disparage me for assuming they carry news
of fresh death.

The way, once, you listened
as I practiced a eulogy between bites of pickled radish.

Do you remember that dim afternoon?
Curled like quotation marks on the bed.

A mouth opened
between us.

Holding each other, kissing casually,
you started to squirm,

rolling your forehead
over and over my chest.

Do you remember how you said it,
the very first time you said it?

You answered “I love you”
when I asked “What’s wrong.”

Sarah Matthes is a poet from central New Jersey. Her debut collection of poetry “Town Crier” won the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize and is forthcoming with Persea Books in April 2021. Selected poems have appeared or are forthcoming with Pleiades, The Iowa Review, Black Warrior Review, Yalobusha Review, poets.org, Midst, and elsewhere. She has received support for her work from the Yiddish Book Center, and is the recipient of the 2019 Tor House Prize from the Robinson Jeffers Foundation. The managing editor of Bat City Review, she lives in Austin, TX. sarahmatthes.com

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