maybe I like the rain
bowing the mint in your garden,
tatami under my belly
I watch records spin.
the heat clings to my skin but
when you’re gone
the washed out mountains on your shoji
keep me cool through the night.
copper kettle on the burner
while I warm up the bath,
spend quiet mornings wrapped in hammock
glad I’d cut the past from my hair.
My love lies neglected on a naked pillow, cold where I wiped the juice from your thighs. It’s the forgotten change you try to shake from your pockets at the subway gates. You’ll walk – because you like walking, because you need a fresh air of a reminder, that all you wanted was to escape the tangle of my bedsheets before they strangled you into a feeling you wouldn’t understand. You’ll walk, because you prefer to keep things simple. You know the streets better than the ridges of my heart, and I’ll agree that they are much easier to map out.
I slipped away from the prying eyes of thirsty men and my father. To the only place a woman can truly feel free away from the privacy of her home – the ladies’ room.
Except that this ladies’ room was the better half of a crumbling building, a roof precariously stitched to empty spaces in the walls.
A woman perched on the sinktop, passing a cup of coffee to her friend.
Damn, I thought, I wanted to have a smoke.
A shy smile, I slid into a stall. There was no door.
Damn, I thought, okay, as I crouched, moving my underwear.
It was hot in Jordanian summer, the smell of urine clung to the air, to the hairs in my nostrils.
I redressed awkwardly and went to wash my hands in the sink.
The pretend-sink. Rotted pipes filled with sand.
The girls lit up a cigarette, I sighed, hah, and
Me too! I lit up one of mine, my words a tangle anyway,
Popped up into the broken sink with relief and hung out for a while.
I was full of shit and my age gave it away.
You were full of shit, too, but I guessed men were always that way.
She leans on the bar, empty cup dangling from her arm.
Two boys beside her, deep in conversation, sense her presence, respond by moving their beer to make space.
The tender is busy- she sighs, turns away, tapping her foot. Her head sways to the music, poise intact.
Turning back to the bar, more forceful with her outstretched cup.
“How does it feel to be a queen?”
She whips her gaze.
Anticipated by the boy to her side.
“That’s…that’s my line for tonight.
Did it work?”
She whisks her water back from the bartender, and
Beat. She swallows her shy.
“Well, I am a queen.”
The parody of a huff, glimmer in her eye, voice even, nonchalant.
Hinging to walk away, an exhale:
“Oh, you are.”
Playful scoff –
Creases curling on her lips.
I used to have this friend, I forget their name. We met online. It’ll come to me at some point. Jamie. We would chat on the phone all the time. We’d never met, in person, but we’d hang on the line and listen to each other breathe to fall asleep. I would sleep on the couch in my parents’ living room, I don’t know why. Maybe I was too anxious in my room. Maybe the sound of my dad snoring in the room next to mine kept me awake.
My parents didn’t have blinds in their living room. I was afraid of the shadows outside. When it was windy, I’d think that the black garbage bag set out for collection for the next morning was a stranger swaying in the dark. When it was calm, I’d imagine it.
Sometimes I would wake up in the early morning with the phone pressed against my cheek, checked to hear Jamie’s breathing on the other end, and fell back asleep.
We lost touch, I think.
Maybe I imagined it.