by Joyce Zhang
Art by Alice Cai
Issue: Ataraxia (Spring 2018)
Read skin like eighties bops on the highway at night, top
forties pistoning out your mouth, the tongue curled
around a vibrato-laced seed. Suck on the tendrils of an unfinished bridge &
wait for heat to form chords in your mind. Let it fester, all these oxygen
symphonies, licking persuasion on softened ground.
Imagine vacancy. This is the way you try & unmake
yourself: on the synth of a lover’s beat.
In another chorus, you learn touch by
the thrum of the bass & wonder how long it takes for flesh to
your bones were built for dancing, not love-making. He rubs up
on your hamstrings & you take all the double sharps, the flat
spaces he traces on your rib cages & decrescendo into silence. Tells you he feels
whole, but the night modulates to e minor & your spine spills out into dust.
You’re bigger than this solidness, the brackets of your body. You know that. & yet
for four years you don’t know how to handle the weight of
her flesh on yours, body like song pitched down—
taught a tune with expectations you never knew how to fulfill. & really.
You hold the girl in quarter rests
because you love her & her insides
Syncopation snickering in your mind. In all the songs you hear there is not
one for cosmic acceptance & perhaps that’s why you’ll always
choose to yield to reprisal instead. Numb your mouth to her
cavity, his interjection. Drink vibrato retribution. Know that codas come in this flavor & only this flavor. & again,
You read eighties bops on the highway at night & try to think of pamphlets of
skin as a form of desire.