Wednesday
Apr082015

Afterwards

Melissa Roberts


 


The room feels small or large
depending on how small you are within it

and whether or not a man is touching you
while you're thinking about something else—

 

                        *

 

how the late rain might touch you

or that it's hard to get used to how much
you can see in the dark 

 

                        *

 

There comes a time when a girl
must stop wishing herself storybook:

there was no garden before the bitten apple, no

sun-bleached, cartwheeling
summertime

 

                        *

 

Just the usual fumes
breathed down the shirt of childhood

the exposed bulb's available light

 

                        *

 

Doesn't a girl need to learn
sooner or later

to let a man's breath turn her to vapor?

 

                        *

 

The girl is quiet—believing she traded
her voice for passage to shelter 

 

                        *

 

So let memory alter it: insist
on recalling other bodies

harmless and pliable as starfish
and kids who jumped off the wooden dock—

happy

 

                        *

 

Pretend that when the sky opens what rains down
will be only rain—

and when it's over the only damage impersonal
as the seasonal flooding

of some murky river

 

                        *

 

That what lands on you hard
might land this time with indifference

Think of the earth unmoved
by the hunger of men trapped in a mine pit

 

                        *

 

men waiting what feels like a long time
for the worst part to be over—

 

                        *

 

in the body, which would have you believe
the world needs another

feeble fortress

 

                        *

 

One day the men are delivered
to the blinding surface

where everyone is rumored to be happy

 

                        *

 

In that kind of light bodies look like apparitions

Like pencil sketches—

 

                        *

 

The girl pretends to sing to herself
She imagines the sound of her own voice

how threateningly it would move
the numb air