Not Forgetting, Not Big Enough for the Two of Us

NOT FORGETTING

Press him against the shelf,
forget you knew anything
and paste your eyes
in a forward direction:
no one ever told you
the closet would become
so cluttered, so heavy
with everyone’s weight.

You can’t believe
there is any room left
for bodies—but one more
will fit in the corner,
he stands with his mouth open,
his arms outstretched
like a baby’s,
feet planted wide in defiance.

You almost relent,
close the door, open the door,
close the door again.

Close the door,
and keep it locked this time.
Still you wonder
if there is enough light
to see inside the darkened space,
to illuminate the cracks
that continue to breathe
slowly and steadily.
While you try your hardest
to sleep on the flattened surface,
your body flips repeatedly
to the other side of the mattress.

It’s no use.
You see his wide mouth
with its perfect teeth
glowing like flashlights
even with your eyes closed,
especially then.

hat and boots

NOT BIG ENOUGH FOR THE TWO OF US

Cowboy cologne on the range:
bent over gunslingers’ chaps
drip with sweat and horse’s blood.
Their hands grip the lariat
even in slumber,
and they toss fitfully
underneath rough blankets
beneath the waxing moon,
without bathing, ever
or brushing their teeth;

instead they floss
the wedged pieces
of boiled buffalo hide
from within the crevices
with dirty fingernails,
and flick them into the fire.
Sleeping with boots on,
they dream of death and whiskey
and curling snake tattoos,
tongues flicking like triggers.

There is no point
in trying to smell better,
the sun will continue to rise
like a grim enemy from the desert,
the same enemy you shot dead yesterday.

Find more from Leah Mueller On the Verge as well as on her site.

Images captured by the author.

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