Two drinks on the Redondo Beach boardwalk & I’m
talking big game. School days, stirring the egg white
in my drink until it foams up, dissolves. What’s past
is present, but I can’t say it. Fifteen years old. Crossed eyes,
buckteeth, no talent for combing out knots. A fantasy
then: my classmates suspended in glass, camphored
so I could study them at my leisure. When forced to make
small talk, I drew on what I knew. Your father left
to drill oil in the Dakotas. Does he call you? Are you
failing math? Do you think that’s your own fault? I wanted
to know. I wanted you to fix yourself in front of me.
I bled first at ten. I was scintillating despite my persistent lack
of skill, interest. Men were then the vehicle
bearing me to the little room inside my chest where I could
watch them through a window. I liked the view.
The ones who stayed liked the silence, or something. The prying
open. Stop crying, I say, holding the scalpel. Tell me everyone
you hate. I ask the man in the bar if he misses his lover. Didn’t she die
last year? If we unbury the bodies together, we have to point out
the rot. In the story, you dig a hole in the dirt and you whisper
your secret there. What grows from that? A tooth,
a tower, a hive full of honey. A house that’s sutured shut. Everyone loves
somebody else. Those who love me are wrong.
Brittany Cavallaro is the author of the poetry collections Girl-King and Unhistorical, both from the University of Akron Press. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, AGNI, and elsewhere. She lives in Michigan, where she teaches at the Interlochen Arts Academy.