by Laura E. Davis
Leitha wakes every day & moors
herself to boots and radiators, sea
lions and continents. She wakes
every day and drinks
ten mugs of peppermint tea. Her eyes
swallow yesterday’s boat
while she leaps the bracken fields,
the afternoon panic, the tink–tink of ice
in her mid-day glass of Jameson.
Leitha wakes every day to second helpings
of sunlight and blue pills. She wakes
every day, throws off the quilt, presses
her calloused feet to the floor
and stretches her legs, thighs, hips,
whispers talus, cuneiform, phalanx.
Then each night Leitha melts into bed,
strums her ribs, hums the day—
ready for the sky’s bowl to brim dark.
Leitha dreams of sailing
the Monongahela to the Gulf,
where she scoops seagulls into her arms.
At nineteen I say
to the almost-stranger
on the way to his dorm
John, I’m a virgin ya know
which he thought meant
John, I don’t want this
Soon it’s his top bunk and my hazy
skin. Me on my back and his knees
on my thighs convincing me
I am ghost-white, says I need to be
After, a red slick of gasoline on my panties.
Now, when I take my lover to bed
my body whispers—
a solitary milk bath
five hundred joy-bombs
seven broken loaves
two palms opening
one mug of sweat
But as I take off my clothes, I listen
for the faint smell of fumes.
Strike a match. Torch it.
Laura E. Davis is the author of the chapbook Braiding the Storm (Finishing Line Press 2012). Her poem “Widowing” won the 2011 Crab Creek Review Poetry Contest, judged by Dorianne Laux. Her poems and reviews are featured or forthcoming in Redactions, The Rumpus, Sweet Lit, and WomenArts Quarterly, among others. The Founding Editor of the literary magazine Weave, Davis teaches poetry writing, translation, and recitation in San Francisco, where she lives with her partner, Sal.