By the time white hairs finally bloom
in his beard, he has stopped wearing
boxer briefs. Taken to wearing gym shorts
beneath his slacks. Reads love letters
from past lives with his tea leaves—
leaves them out tangled on his dresser
where he knows she will find them.
She notices for the first time his kisses
are too wet, his mouth opening as though
he were about to bite down to her pit.
One day, he comes home.
Finds her whittling a little man
out of driftwood with a steak knife.
When she is through, she soaks it in dishwater
pink with blood from so many little nicks.
Leaves it to dry by the succulents nesting
in terra cotta on the sill above the sink.
By the time spores lodge in its lap, turning
into a flourish of granite and jade lichen
that climbs from cock to core, she has gone
and stolen back what was left of herself,
having already loved him like his name
was etymological. Like she couldn’t live
without him getting in under her skin.
This selection comes from Bianca Spriggs’ poetry collection Call Her by Her Name, available now from Northwestern University Press. Purchase your copy here.
Bianca Spriggs is an award-winning poet and multidisciplinary artist from Lexington, Kentucky, The author of four collections of poetry, most recently, Call Her by Her Name (Northwestern University Press) and the forthcoming The Galaxy Is a Dance Floor (Argos Books). She is the managing editor for pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture and poetry editor for Apex Magazine. You can learn more about her work here: www.biancaspriggs.com.
Staci R. Schoenfeld is a recipient of 2015 NEA Fellowship for Poetry, grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and residencies from the Ragdale Foundation and Albee Foundation. She is a PhD student at University of South Dakota, assistant editor for poetry at South Dakota Review, and an assistant editor at Sundress Publications. Recent and forthcoming publications include poems in Mid-American Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Room Magazine, fiction in Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, and non-fiction in The Manifest Station.