Red lake of salt, crumbling edge of pus, far border of tender flesh
I tread around the bloody eye, daring the old impulse to jump
Saturday morning, the wound spills

I dream he is in my bed. Disoriented by his smell I can’t remember his name
I dip my finger into the depression where his neck & shoulder & clavicle intersect
and ask, Is it you? Are we here again?

I have housed another person, sustained him with milk from my breasts
for months & still. Never have the borders of my body been so blurred:
his flesh mine, my flesh his.
The free exchange of fluids, the reckless drawing of blood:
There is no intimacy like a wrecking love.

Some nights I lay in (our) bed awake. These nights stretch.
I stand from the bed, sit on the toilet. Bore of masturbating.
Open & close books. Remove layers of blankets, layers of clothing.
Stand under the shower. Eat ripe fruit over the sink. Wipe my face with a dishtowel.

These are my most honest nights.

Since the untangling the lovers have been kind & clumsy & graceful.
Hungry & apathetic. I couldn’t say how many—it doesn’t matter,
They are not enough.

Lately I prefer to find myself curled upright in the bathtub,
chin between the twin flats of my knees. When I am alone,
I am almost enough.

In daylight I face others propped upright, wounds dressed,
  wrapped in hard plaster. Underneath the casing I am all hollow.
                                                          I think: You are boring, boring, boring.

I read many interesting things. I am so smart,
I read things most people wouldn’t. While I read,
my mind wanders to fixate on men who think I’m great,
but not good enough. There are plenty of men like that
& they confirm what I recite in my head (in his voice):
                                                               not enough, not enough, not enough.

When I meet a man like that, the longing is unbearable.

The last time he was in this bed, it stood in the little house we bought.
We had given up, he was on edge, drinking too much,
pacing late into the night. I’d pack for my impending move,
go to work & come home to find my things unpacked. It was like that for us:
he showed love through bared teeth. I offered sex as sedative.
That last night he woke me. Stood over me with a flashlight asking,
Are you okay? You were crying out in your sleep.

I lifted the covers, allowed him to lay beside me.
To fuck dangerous men to sleep is not unlike the circus trick
of putting one’s head into a lion’s gaping mouth. There’s a certain
glamour and giddiness to escaping unscathed.

But I never cry out in my sleep.

When dreaming of my own death, I fall silent.
 
 

Photo by mkooiman

Seema Reza

SEEMA REZA is a poet and essayist and the author of When the World Breaks Open, a hybrid memoir published by Red Hen Press. Based outside of Washington, DC, she is the Chair of Community Building Art Works, a non-profit that brings a unique multi-hospital arts program encouraging the use of the arts as a tool for narration, self-care and socialization to a veteran and active duty military population struggling with emotional and physical injuries. Her writing has appeared in print and on-line at The Offing, Bellevue Literary Review, The Feminist Wire and others. Her second book, a collection of poetry is forthcoming from Write Bloody in 2019.

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