tell me that dreadful story about the mayflies
& that burnt-out summer
we spent in the shadows of oak trees, our shoulders
raw & peeling.
everything had that sick patina of
“i loved you” in the sunslick light, where it was always
half-past some forgotten appointment.
no sense of urgency; no sighs;
no breath but what you’d give me.
i think it went something like this:
we go back to the lake with the tall grass & then i pull all the words right out of your open mouth. you’re not in love with me yet, but maybe you never were.
the fisherman on the next dock catches three carp and then a fourth, but by this time we’re already gone & i don’t see him teasing the hook from between their lips; don’t hear the wet
gasp of their fat bodies hitting the water.
okay, so let’s hear it your way.
the sky was hazy & so was your mind; maybe the heat
was getting to you. everything was sore & dark yellow,
so maybe i can’t blame you for squeezing a little too hard.
i take you down to the lake with the fish bones & i say something like
“i love you”, or maybe i make you say it first.
point is, i’m looking at you like i’m pulling teeth & someone
somewhere is hurting;
so maybe i can’t blame you for everything after.
you take me back to your grandmother’s garden & feed me heirloom tomatoes rolled in sugar; i kiss you with a dripping red mouth. the mosquito bites & blisters don’t bother us just yet, but that doesn’t mean you don’t draw blood.
you ask where it hurts & i say: here, here, here; so
quick i can hardly think, everything all sticky-sweet & unbearable.
you call me a liar, & i tell you to take anything, anything
you ever could’ve wanted, if you'd only just let it be me.
I know nothing about Chesapeake, VA, but this poem made me feel like i'd had some late-summer one-sided affair with some pretty-eyed gal and felt too soft to be southern, so Virginia it is.