Some days, it seems I’ve cut my teeth
on the trellis of your wrists, learned
language from the breaking of your body.
As if you have always been here. It is not
difficult to bear your weight, so much
less than whole. Your fractures ring
like rain into a well, my mouth, cliff
and chasm. Fingers dewed with awe,
you trace my waist, whisper into ribcage
the art of starving. Where other hands
have left their etchings you carve song
into clay, rhyme into the ruin of my body.
When he is forced to rifle through his wife, he thinks
of the tartness of little girl mouths and their resistant
sweetness. Not yet ripe, their kisses must be tempted
off the bough or twisted until relinquished. The pulp
of his daughters soaks spring into his fingers, trembles
on his tongue, makes his dreams pulse taut and tender.
If he could have a thousand daughters he would plant
them all beneath his bed and replace woman’s rankness
with their fragrant weeping. He does not know how long
he could watch them grow before descending to snap their
stems and bath his flesh in their terror and their honey.
I feel almost adult in this dull light. He sits beside me,
smooths my hair, wishing, perhaps, that I had worn
more jewelry. I order my dinner in high school French,
tongue skittering over the surface of the language. He
asks the waiter for a delicacy. When the bones are brought
to the table, already hewed into glistening halves, he takes
one up in his hands, laps at its sweetness. The sentiment
of this extraction is familiar to me. His fingers gleam
with grease as he beckons for my mouth to open, dollops
the richness between my lips. This too is familiar – sound
of bone breaking, almost silent groan of pleasure.
Almost night and city sweats to cool
itself. Spires blur up, ribboning, like mist
off of a fountain. The brittle sky is casting
bones and my body bends in answer, bare
feet patterned with pitch, cross-hatched
and asphalt-pocked from hours roof-side.
In half-light my skin is sallow, swallowing
cloud pallor, almost pale beneath the belly
of the sky. I am cleaving to the coming
rain, the color it casts across my skin,
soaking me flinty ivory, cartilage-hued.
Soon, the skillet gray will crack and sheath
the buildings static, thickly as shadows
or snow. I will keep my body roof-bound,
pray for a strand of lightning to whittle me
electric, warp me wire sharp, singe me still.
Amber Rambharose is finishing her final year as an undergraduate student at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. Originally from Brooklyn, NY, she spends much of her time searching—unsuccessfully—for a sound in the Southern United States that is as soothing as the screech of subway trains. Her poetry can be found in The Virginia Literary Review and Cicada Magazine.