The Zipper

Jocelyn Sears


I hear that you’re taking time off, taking your box
back to Indiana for a while, I suppose you can’t keep your sadness
in a carrying case like a cat forever.
                                                            Close the white door
to your bedroom, sit on the bed with your shoes off. Feel the nubbed carpet
under your soles as you open the box and let the pain breathe.
            Except that the box
                                    is your body, muddled insides
sucked into shape by the shell of skin. What you really need
is a closed door and a dark room where you can take it off.
Not that it’s a solution, that it will make you
better. You just can’t do it here.
                                                The zipper is hidden
under your left armpit. Use a little bit of bourbon
as lubricant, the way you’d oil your finger
if a ring got too tight. You’re a mass of red shadows
molting, muscles like ribbons wrapped loosely around stacks of bone,
trembling as gelatin trembles, it used to be a horse’s hoof
            and when I knew you
                                                you were a man.
Meanwhile I’m in California, zipped tight
into my own skin suit. I take it off to shower in the dark. Water
and darkness will both take the shape of any container, when I knew you,
            you were a man
                                    but I just wanted you human.

I wanted you, and our skin came off with our clothes.
The fogged shower, our bodies the rawness of meat,
                        you pulled the skin off your face like an undertaker
            pulling back a sheet, a half-smile expecting the inhale,
but I didn’t hesitate, my hands all over your cheeks,
                                                                        Is it dry in Indiana? The air sharp
against your exposed organs, muscles meeting it like a board of pins?
                        I know you’ll never forgive me for not being afraid of you.