after Robin Coste Lewis
One morning I woke up wet and folded
in the center of a black gyre.
Sometimes, you’d speak from the outside,
or press your hand in the eye
to streak black specks against my cheek.
Other times, you’d release gold leaf
until the air swelled brighter than a singing beehive.
I told you, in SaLone my Aunt Shirley married a witch doctor
who fed her hallucinogenic tinctures by hand,
unsutured his voice
from the barrels of his throat and threw it at her.
Perhaps this is why
I looked you in the eye for too long,
the way grains of sand began
to obscure your face
until even it became particulate.
When I said schizophrenic, you laughed, widened
your eye holes when I said ventriloquist.
In the heart of the gyre, I found snakeskins and hands
severed in the ’90s by the Revolutionary
United Front. You told me in every love story
there must be something keeping the couple split.
Bullshit I said and every now and then I’d spin
songs above my head. I’d switch
from “Bloody Mary” to Billie Holiday in an instant
when I thought you weren’t listening. And then,
Why are you so unhappy? you asked me. I could barely see
your silhouette, pitching rum and ganja
through the vortex. I buried them and hid
alligator gall between my breasts. I could leave
whenever I wanted, you said,
but soon I started finding pieces
of your face, revolving
everywhere I looked. A tooth. An iris.
A bottom lip. My name
came reeling towards me from a net
of insects that said it was your mouth.
There were so many, beating
blood through their wings, claiming
love, saying drink this to press
their stingers in my body.