Tennis Shoes


tongues thick, the pink of my elbows, my knees.
            sometimes the white tennis shoes leaked, the grass in the backyard
ankle-high. i would wait for november to turn me
            raw and soft, to bend me backwards over lavender evenings with the
hum of the fridge.  i drop everything i know into
            the basins of my thighs. years are lost in me. a subtle teething. bright rot
of morning. how to live with the faucets left on.
            in those years, asphalt was the soft of gums, inhale gasoline tang. at night we drove shopping carts fast through the snow,
           teeth chipped and polaroid feeble, and i felt like something was catching up to me, waited for it to crash headlong into my back.
in memories, i go half-deaf. in memories,
there is only sight. i watch the grainy super 8 footage of your seventeenth birthday,
           notice how your bedroom shakes black,
how your body is outlined hard against yellow wallpaper, moving like an excuse.

Froth Skies, Bloody Snow

Your blood rushing over fresh snow & the frayed spines of hymnals. I asked for the child in me then, asked her soft as lambs’ ear, waited to choke up something pink with trembling wings for you. That winter had a think mouth, the evergreens with the grey belt of distance behind them, a forest teeming with speckled does. I held my palms out, skin blush and lapping, steady. Mist flossed between the evergreens. The does watched me mute, skinny legs sloping, knees bulging and wound like fists, and this is why I could never love a small thing. In another’s mouth, there is something to be said for crashed sleds, slit wrists, a crying boy. I watched the blood leave river-thick through the gash in your palm, the taxidermy of silence.

And now, a world sinking through its mouth, waiting for my offering to the boy. The way pearls are birthed on the meat of tongues.

I have no answers for myself:

how I could be caught tender in the eyes of a wounded son. How I could look away, look up at a sky milk-washed and frothing, count deer. My small hands, my sparrow boy, there was nothing to become for you.

- Kateri David