Galentines

why are all the women I know beautiful smart & nursing longing
like a fine whiskey
it is valentine’s day & people who think holidays are stupid
are in love all year long
my roommate pacing the porch on the phone telling a man her heart
was a fistful of rhododendrons before him,
beside him, & will live on as such after
we popped champagne toasted love’s eventual end & decay
watched the beautiful people on television with badly drawn eyeliner
& their whole human futures ahead of them
somersaulted in the gleeful mess of our lives
we tell tales of love how when it arrives
it’s going to hurt like a lung thawing
tell stories how desire might as well mean defeated a fire
that swallows a village before it kindles
through the glass through the wall
hear her begin to cry I’ve never not once it’s not fair
& it makes me want to flick off all the lights & slip
out the window into the dark wet parking lot
the things we haven’t done & the things we have & how equally they ruin
why is every smart & beautiful woman I know keening
on her knees to be a store-bought orchid wilting in a car trunk
why do the people I love most spend nights piling shadows
under their eyes like rings of a tree, feeding soup to a doorknob
that won’t turn for them
three years ago today I bought a homeless man a cheap beer & he was angry
because it only made him crave another
he sketched a portrait of me that I hated
because I knew it was true
a couple argued in the street & my first thought
was from the outside intimacy looks the same as violence
I lived by the sea then like a dream
thought my therapist was secretly imaginary
because her door was always unlocked
I want to say I am a better person now & sometimes I am
sometimes I believe in other people so hard
that to be on the same continent with them is enough
even if we’ll never touch
peer into any woman’s heart & I promise it’s a bowl
of carefully beaten rhubarb so sweet & unrecognizable
I just want to rub someone’s back & make them a mix cd
& not say sorry
I want six eyes eight wings & hair that lurches
in the wind like a train bombing
if you don’t think love is the same as terror who have you ever been in love with
probably someone kind
why is every woman I know filled with glittering american rage & not allowed
when she says I let him come inside me because I thought he liked me
I want to cry because yes we are losing
ourselves all the time like water sweating in a glass
spend all night googling the mountains
places far away where you can take your shame
hand it off to a mother or nun,
return to life & try again
a year ago today I was in love
with a man who was my friend
he gave me a paper heart & called me the sun
I almost died three times this year
& had to call & remind him. I’m still here
a ghost in your window ringing bells the shape of rain
if you are looking to discard your promises, do not make a body
your dumping ground
because what if the body just won’t burn
what if it keeps calling to remind you,
I am alight & only growing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erin Slaughter is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Elegy for the Body (Slash Pine Press, 2017) and GIRLFIRE (dancing girl press, 2018), and is editor and co-founder of literary journal The Hunger. You can find her writing in Prairie Schooner, Passages North, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. Originally from north Texas, she is pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Florida State University. Her first full-length poetry collection is forthcoming from New Rivers Press in 2019.

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