You greet me with an accumulation of slaps, thin broken red line: we both want this. There’s no con and no man. I said don’t leave marks. They will know who I belong to. I said don’t stop to pick up your singing cell. I said every cell in my body burns with how chill you are while you get down.
Applause, but it’s knocking. My neighbor looks small through the peephole. Says he’s a bottom-dweller and we’re two women too loud. Says can we turn down Kathleen Hanna, except he calls it noise. Says he’s annoyed by creaking floorboards. But we’re lovelords, collecting our due. Our fingers are slipping through cubbies and gullies, gripping handholds in the wall of what’s new.
When the cops show up, my hair’s teased, my sense of self askew. Officer Good Cop says she likes my rug, and Officer Bad Cop asks about drugs. Don’t get mouthy, they say as they saunter away, and Good Cop winks at us.
At my desk the next day, I Kegel my lips and bounce your name like a weight in the curve of my tongue, wet muscle that greets you. It gets easier to relax, you say: like a wave, like the sea eating sand, waiting pulses between slaps. My neck aches. I don’t want this to get easy, do you?
Carol Guess is the author of twenty books of poetry and prose, including Darling Endangered, Doll Studies: Forensics, and Tinderbox Lawn. A frequent collaborator, she writes across genres and illuminates historically marginalized material. In 2014 she was awarded the Philolexian Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement by Columbia University. She teaches at Western Washington University and lives in Seattle.
Rochelle Hurt is the author of In Which I Play the Runaway (2016), whichwon the Barrow Street Poetry Prize, and The Rusted City: A Novel in Poems (White Pine, 2014). Her work has been included in the Best New Poets anthology series and she’s been awarded prizes and fellowships from Crab Orchard Review, Arts & Letters, Hunger Mountain, Poetry International, Vermont Studio Center, Jentel, and Yaddo. She lives in Orlando and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Central Florida