Cate Marvin

A Brief Attachment

I regard your affections, find your teeth have
left me a bruise necklace. Those lipstick
marks leech a trail, ear to ear, facsimile your
smile. Your 40 ounces of malt liquor, your
shrink hate, your eyes dialing 911. The hearts
you draw with ballpoint on my cigarette packs
when I’ve left the room, penned in your girl’s
cursive, look demented, misshapen approximations
of what I refuse to hand over. It’s a nice touch,
though: a little love to accompany the cancer.
My thought follows you to where you spend
your days lying in bed, smoking and reading
the Beats. The accumulation of clothes and ashes
circles you, rising like a moat after rainfall.
Often you are a study in detachment – the trigger
eye is your eye, still as a finger poised to press
should one refuse to cooperate, and I wonder
how you can hate men so much when you think
like one. Think of what I could be doing outside
if I could unlock the door of myself: think bikini,
think soda fountain, think tradition, a day lacking
entirely your brand of ambivalence. If you were
a number, I’d subtract you; if you were a sentence,
I’d rewrite you. Are you the one who left these
wilted flowers, are you the one whose PIN spells
out H-O-L-E? Why are you wearing my clothes?
If you are weather, then I’m a town, closing down
at word of your coming: you’re a glacier on fast
forward, you’re direct as a detour, when I say
good-bye you move in next door. You say you
want to have my baby, you want to buy me a car,
and you’re too young to enter a bar. I should tether
you to a tree in the dark park, allow the moon to stroke
your white neck. I should give you a diamond collar,
walk you around the block, and show you off.

Cate Marvin
A Brief Attachment was first published in Konumdrum Engine Literary Review.
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Cate Marvin
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse