Nothing lasts forever, we both know this. There was once—3am, at the Waffle House—he said he wanted everything smothered and covered, sipping whiskey from a flask. I could see the pulse held in his arms, barely contained. He slinked to the juke box and put on Patsy Cline—I fall to pieces each time I see you again. I’d looked at lightning scars online: flesh tattooed like snowflakes, fiery crystals coursing in their skin. I said he deserved the world and he said, So give me the world then.
Coloratura, meaning “coloring” in Italian, one who can sing the highest notes in a run, should also mean a woman who is full of lightning. On stage, the crystalline bodice wraps her, a train of stars flows behind. The part she sings is nearly impossible—a soprano can only sing it so many times before it destroys her voice. Head back, the aria fills her, fills the room. The damage? You know the way this story goes: The first time a man touched my naked body, I transformed, body and soul, into water.
Jim Whiteside’s debut chapbook is Writing Your Name on the Glass (Bull City Press, 2019). His poems have received support from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he earned his MFA. Jim’s poems have appeared or will soon appear in journals such as Ploughshares, the Southern Review, Pleiades, Crazyhorse, and Washington Square Review. Originally from Cookeville, Tennessee, he lives in Madison, Wisconsin.