Aracelis Girmay


It rained all night. It did not rain.
I strapped my life to a buoy

                                                & sent it out.

& was hoping for a city
as beautiful as hair
or the saffron ghost
of a monk in the morning.


This morning I sneak
out of your bed,
& am the red skin
of the snake who leaves
the stiff meat of your muscle.


In other words, I take my skin,
a costume, to the kitchen,
& stand in the doorway
between these dirty realms
of knives & air & pocket-change.
              & behind the curtain
of the breasts you chewed,
I am a city
whose citizens sing, forget
the rifle in your eye.


You’re breathing like a farm
in the other room, & the lintel above me
is a guillotine. I’ll miss you, deer,
but I choose my head, & carry it out of doors
wearing only its creaking feet.