I had a crush on a redheaded Dutchman. He had a long curly red afro
and an elf's nose. He said he was related to Henry the 8th and I believed
him. You were there, hanging out on the basketball court with some other
people I didn’t know. I could tell you were laughing at my new boyfriend,
but I didn't care. He smelled good, like violets. He wore a brand new
dark blue and gold jogging suit. Besides, we only wanted to float with each other
for awhile. I was strong, could do anything on point shoes or without,
and felt oddly satisfied for once in my life. The smell of diesel fumes
at an amusement park in summer satisfies something hard to put a finger on,
and it was like that with the Dutchman. We went out on a boat with his family.
At first they were nice but then they pushed me into the dark blue and gold water.
I sunk to the bottom. After the fear left, I felt warm and peaceful.
“Hell is other people,” texts my mother.
I want to tell her that there is a point at which we cross over
and with the ease of landed gentry greet the monster of light.
Until that happens our expectations will be knifing us,
hope and fear interchangeable.
You might as well bury your glimmering heart under a pile of rocks,
I want to tell her. The sphere of the fixed star gives rise to a scattering
power that moves in every creature, eats our possessions, and is
the unrestrainable voice, the incomprehensible womb.
Know this: words are waves, not baskets. Baskets are macabre embroilments,
not love. Love is subpoenaed by marshlight, by rings of saturn crossing seas of ice.
I’m thinking about that time ten years ago when he used to drag me like a lake.
It was maybe 2 AM and we were going into a Walgreens.
REISER PERKINS lives on an island with a husband and some goats. Her work has appeared in print and online, most recently in Sugar House Review and Hobart. A collection of poems, How I Learned To Dance While Dying, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. She also runs the independent publishing project known only as Otis Nebula.