Sister, they always said we were the bright ones, the ones who were going to go so far, but here we are, only twenty-five miles from the house that wasn’t a home, twenty-five miles from the man who’s staticy voice taught us that we were much less worthy than what we ever were.
Come here at night to drink,
Still, a woman wades at the shore of a man’s sea.
When we speak it is too loud, as if we don’t know how.
Quiet’s value imprinted itself when we watched our mothers.
We say yes without listening to the question, without needing
to know what the question is.
I saw the birthing of a crazy phoenix – saw it raise hackles of fire,
span its bright wings of pain, sear the night with a flock of sparks.
It made a spear of embers and flew its pyre into the night –
crackled with vicious feathers, spat its language of waste
I’m emaciated, wearing blue corduroy’s—sitting on the splintered wooden floor.
I look at the man, Kevin, who injects himself—the needle permanent as it pierces the skin. When I watch him, all I think of is when it’s going to be my turn. He’s used heroin intermittently for fourteen years and fights to find a vein.
Blue eyes seeing red
A freckled face in the mirror
In a battered apartment room
Where tears are commonplace
Where aromas of sex and wine
We begin again likewise,
we look to end the stutter
we want to start laughing.