“God Asks Why” by Peter Groesbeck.
(See also “Fuel” by Lanier Wright Fields.)
Dregs in the hotel glasses, arranged in lines of song.
Skin cells on tub bottoms, my hair
on the brush, tangled in the trash, curled in the drain.
All day, he touched bodies and objects—fingerprints
on doorknobs, windowsills, and coins—obsessed
with the outside of gloves, books, crepe paper,
anything that could be bloated or ruined with water. We remade
the world in residue. I lived inside the constant pulsing
of my absent home, an uncommon and ever-present idea
of the recalled native land in the mind. When we stop,
I lie down in tall grass to form a silhouette.
When we stop, I lie for a long time in the edge of waves
until my body has been carved into beach. I leave my body
in the beach so it fills and empties. We made effigies
in ice, in weeds woven in grass, in peonies floating. When we began
to sleep together—in a desultory manner at first
and then with great urgency, I let his come
leak out of me purposefully, with art
so that sometimes I left behind
a spot, sometimes a crescent, a harvest scythe.
I let the stains wax and wane with the month, the moon;
Every fourth week, the story bled.
Had you read our motel beds across,
like a comic strip, you would have seen us
making with our bodies a calendar,
situating ourselves physically inside a narrative of those days.
Sasha West has had work appear in Ninth Letter, Forklift, OH, Callaloo, Born, American Poet, Third Coast, and elsewhere. Her poems have garnered two Pushcart nominations, a Houston Arts Alliance Grant, Rice University’s Parks Fellowship, and scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. She holds graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins and the University of Houston, where she was editor of Gulf Coast. She currently lives in Austin with her husband and teaches writing to the graduate students at UT Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs.
Read our interview with Sasha here.