It was hot, and we had paper cuts all over our fingers
in the shapes of the initials of everyone we’d ever known
before the age of 18. Except they weren’t paper cuts
they were glass slices and there were still little pieces
in the grooves of my palms that I couldn’t pry out.
And it wasn’t everyone’s initials, but everyone’s
belly buttons and breasts, all scarred up and in hospital gowns
after a whole row of surgeries. You said, drink the wine.
I said, yes please, and let some drip into my glass shards.
Outside there was a grandfather toad who kept watch
over us. He sprung up and down the unpaved drive
and gulped nice oxygen through his toad skin,
made sure no bad men made it to the house
without squashing him and turning back in toad murder guilt.
Everyone’s scars faded, even my own glass ones, and we felt good.
You said it was a terrible thing to dream about dead end jobs,
and I said it was more terrible to work them.
I hardly believed myself, I still don’t believe myself.
So instead you got two paper bags and two cans of beer,
and you took me to an oak tree that didn’t look like an oak tree.
It was split in half and growing back together, almost a graft,
more like a glass wound. We ate peaches out of an oak tree.
I don’t know how we made that trick happen, but we did.
I told you about my deepest regrets: that I hadn’t kissed you first,
that I’d taken the lazy job that fired me anyway, that I didn’t read
anything for six months once. You told me how afraid you were
of little pills, of my panic attacks, of your father, of being brave.
It was almost night by then and it was all you could do to hold me
like a silver spoon, so I let you. The air conditioner rattled,
and I had bad dreams of all the bad things that had ever happened to me,
and my glass cuts grew swollen in the humidity,
and you purred while you slept, really. You purred like a tiger lamb.
When it was dark I could hear cicadas, grandfather toad, and
the turning of my wine stomach. I was afraid,
but you felt so strong, you had no hair, you had eyelids big as the Arizona desert.
So I let myself forget it all. The dreams where I finally jump out the window,
the way I ruined my fingers, the time my dog died so my dad put a gun to his head.
I breathed it all out and I breathed you up, and suddenly
it was all roses. It was a moment to be alive – blood and bandages and all.
I remembered why I was there in the first place. I remembered
why you were there at all. I felt good, I felt bad too. You love misery,
you always joked. I love misery, I can’t help it. I’m miserable! I smiled,
and you pulled my sweat and fat closer to you.