At Rest, image by Karen Bell.
(See also “Recovery” by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish.)
because you return to our bedroom hours after you promised,
because you must steady yourself against the jamb, which means you’ve driven drunk,
because as your silhouette rides up the wall like an island drawn thin by river currents,
i sense the quicksilver pulse of your clenching need,
because your hands grope cold against my bed warmed breasts,
because when i turn away, your lips plant counterfeit baubles against my neck,
and when you ask me why i’m crying, you refuse to let me answer,
and murmur “I would never hurt you,” unaware your tense describes
things imagined but not true.
your breathing deepens and i imagine you’ve slipped into sleep,
but returning from the hypothetical, you roll me onto my back and pin my wrists,
where you imprint semicolons into the paper lantern skin.
beneath you, i too punctuate what must be done: the whites piled in the laundry room,
the dishes unwashed in the sink, hummingbird feeders full of drowned ants.
tomorrow you will awake late, and i will have put on my coffee,
and you may or may not remember tonight, a shadow passing over your face
as dark as the bruises smudging my inner thighs. but i won’t bring it up
because this is not a love poem,
but it is yours all the same.
Gina Marie Bernard is a trans woman, roller derby vixen, and full-time English teacher. She has completed a 50-mile ultra-marathon, followed Joan Jett across the US, and purposely jumped through a hole cut in lake ice. She lives in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her daughters, Maddie and Parker, own the two halves of her heart. She has written one YA novel, Alpha Summer (2005), and one collection of short fiction, Vent (2013). Her poetry has recently appeared in Mortar, The Cape Rock, New Plains Review, and Leveler.