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You had drawn all over my body in pen

in a hastily found room on the Île St. Louis.

In the morning when we woke, I worried

about the sheets, that we would be charged

for my body’s carbon imprints — words

like “tomato” and “thrash” scratched across an arm,

eyes on the dimples of my back, stitches

running the entire length of spine —

all mirrored in slightly smudged blue

on the mattress’ grayish white canvas.

In those days I was the monster to your Frankenstein.

Everything was fun and sad at the same time.

The sheets no doubt have been cleaned and the marks

washed away, as nothing, not even you, was permanent.

And now I am my own monster, left to torment

and be so without you. And I see why people get tattoos,

become their own experiments, how in the end

only your own skin is yours to keep.






If I met you on a train traveling

70 mph from Bangor Maine to Baton Rouge

on which we talked for five hours straight

about literature politics

and Barbra Streisand’s nails

after which sandwiches were served

(without crusts) accompanied by

orange soda and potato chips

(with crusts) and you laughed

at 75% of my jokes and the sun

changed location and even

attempted to leave several times

at which we cried “No!”

to which it gave no answer

and the train wheels were rubber

and the tracks steel so that

half a dozen Hungarian miners got on

in West Virginia and left before

the bottom left corner of the state

and rain fell and clouds fell

and a 3.7 earthquake happened

ever so lightly somewhere in the world

but just enough such that

its axis moved two billionths to the right

and maybe during its attempt

to tip back the engine man

angry with his wife

for sneaking out with the kids’ math teacher

last night after PTA

went to the liquor cabinet for 750 ml of Jack Daniels

dulling his reflexes enough in the manner that

somewhere around Tuscaloosa

on a particularly straight stretch of track

at the exact moment when

you were standing in the aisle

demonstrating to me

the correct way to hold your arms when walking

so as to avoid underarm stains

the kind that spread like the plague

in our age of synthetic fibers

25% nylon 70% polyester

5% lycra for stretch and wear

and as you were getting to the good part

the miracles of salt and vinegar

the burning secret behind Gorbachev’s birthmark

and the Transiberian railway the train

hit a bump having next to nothing to do

with the drunk engineer but all the same

strong enough to propel you

in those spring-action shoes of your own invention

up through the sunroof the kind they have

in these renovated Amtraks for the summer months

you know the kind built by BMW in North Carolina

good for the American economy and all

twenty feet into the air but the train

more resilient than you think

rolled over the bump and

continued on its way

and the question being would you then

would you there would you how

would you leave me?



Mary Donnelly and Nerve.com