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.