In my outside life, I am
all perfume and loneliness,
the permanent suggestion
of a fashion magazine
on my breath. What
I buy: thongs, bras,
lipstick, eyeshadow,
costumes for the poetry
reading where no one
should get laid. During
class, every discussion
retreats into its own
shadow. I imagine lighting
a cigarette. I imagine
burning my breasts open,
flushing my wedding ring,
torching the places
that used to house
his fists. Every time
I undress is an indictment.
There are questions of
rape, of police involvement,
of the clothes I was
wearing. At poetry
readings, the men
congratulate me
in the form of a hug
that does not let go.
It is exactly the kind
of display my adult self
cannot, for its own health,
believe into existence.
Hours on end, I think
about high school: the night
clubs, the hangovers, how
every teacher’s hello
carried the menace
of a man wanting to unravel
your too-young body.
Love is an unhooked
bra strap at 3 AM.
I sleep with my phone buried
into the recesses of my bed,
as if to prepare myself
for the inevitable dick pic.
Everything is afraid.

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