She wears a Harvard sweater
with a skirt and torn stockings,
and her dining room is filled
with beer bottles and a bike rack
and a pot of pink kalanchoes
freezing quietly on the chilled bone
of her Michigan windowsill
while her lipsticked Texan mouth curses
subtly over tacos and tea by the stove
in the kitchen nearby.
She cares more about punctuation
than anyone I have ever met
and paints me the best pictures
and nothing else—
but she doesn’t know how to pause.
I’m learning to teach her
to never stop running on,
and she’s working to make sure
my ellipses don’t stay
for too long.
She smells like the grapefruit
my daddy and I used to split open
like gemstones on Sunday mornings
over comics and coffee and sleep-drawn skin
and sprinkle with salt, never sugar.
Salt brings out the natural sweetness,
and she is naturally so.
I want to be the one who brings it out.
Let me curl up around the ghosts
in your timelines and nudge your tomorrows
further away until they’re so far gone
that we can rest
tonight. While it rains.
While god cries in her leaking home.
Because we are not the only ones
who feel too much sometimes
to keep dry. To keep it together.
To keep waiting for someone
to say all of our tantrums are soft.
She is so soft.
She is so soft.
The first night we spent together in the new town,
our bed faced three half-shut windows looking east.
She wanted the sun to be our alarm clock,
and I wanted to sleep through the darkness.
At 2 a.m. she ripped back the sheets, sitting up next to me
as my sobs furnished the corners of our room.
Where are the streetlights? I cried, through teeth
clenched like picket fences and eyes held shut.
This town is too midnight, too quiet, too unhome.
In the city, the only silence comes before a storm
when stray cats bunk down in dumpsters and pigeons
steal away to their rooftops alone.
Even then, in thunder, there is the ever-present glow
of streetlights, of headlights, of the lights in homes
too terrified to turn off, for fear they’ll never come back on.
This town is no city, I whispered into her neck,
shuffling with me from room to room,
flipping each switch so our house became home,
buzzing like the cheap fluorescent heat I always knew.
We’ll look at nightlights tomorrow, she whispered in my ear,
leading me by the hands back to bed.
When you decide to tell your ex-boyfriend
about your new lover, it is best not to do so
directly after sleeping with him.
He will stammer, roll over, and stare pointedly
into your scalp, trying to see your thoughts.
He will say, does that mean what I think it does?
and if your tongue is still trapped
between your brain and your throat
you will not respond. He will sit up in bed,
reach for his shorts that you threw aside,
and then reach for you. He won’t believe you.
He will think, after that? After what we just did?
He will be offended at your presence but pull you
closer anyway. He will try to kiss you again.
When you shiver, he will begin to understand.
One year later, he will introduce you
to his new girlfriend as his gay best friend–
his hand on your back, your hand in hers,
and smiles clinging to your faces
like masking tape to a broken windshield.
Darcy Vines is a queer student, poet, and essayist whose work has been published by Words Dance Publishing, The Rising Phoenix Review, and the 26th and 27th editions of The Sampler. As a two-time finalist from their college in the Academy of American Poets Student Poetry Prize, Darcy has read both on their campus and off, and is also an active member of the literary honor society, Lambda Iota Tau. They write frequently about gender, sexuality, and LGBTQIA issues, and can be found wherever there’s a good slam scene.