I’d like to walk again in her weather, in the dark
through the fog,
its gray damage
laid down all over town.
When she couldn’t bring herself to get up
from the bed, Belinda would say
it was like being
the most stylish drowned person in the whole universe.
It was the only likeness she allowed herself, besides
I asked her.
Me? I’m the old word. What do you call it. A Sapphist.
I think she liked to take them back from that kind
of touch. To smudge
the clear blueprints of oil from their breasts.
Her words were so wet the women took a long time
to notice how few of them she said.
For a year in college, I built myself into her silence.
It was so much effort
to even appear to be
interested in what anyone else was saying
that I thought
everyone could hear the splice
when the power died & the negatives unspooled
on the black floor
below my brain.
Now, in this double darkness, I don’t hate being
in the poem
or my body.
I can use my aesthetic expense account to underwrite
the hidden z
in kismet & aphasia.
Under each footfall, there’s a penny on which someone
has scratched: i hert,
misspelling it so I won’t get it wrong.
I can take everything away, become only a breath
with a lisp of salt, & no one—
not the speaker, not his stand-in—
can bring me back.