The Cardinal

by September 1, 2022 0 comments

The morning the cardinal started striking
His reflection like a match
Against the kitchen window
We had walked back from the pool
Through the fields behind
Your apartment
Shoulders peeling
Lips the color of
Fanta grape
We ate honeysuckle along the gate
Kicking anthills in the alley
And our steps exploding in grasshoppers
With socks full of burs
Climbing the stairs,
Burping Dr. Pepper
Your headphones
Playing a cassette
Recorded off the radio

We were sunburned
Smelling like chlorine
Thin freckled and bleached
Seeing halos around the streetlights
And the trees singing with cicadas
A mockingbird echoing in the stairwell
Like a chord in a soundboard

How I loved my body next to you
Held like a heartbeat
Strung like a sentence
Counting afternoons
In cigarette burns on the windowsill

How I loved my body next to you
Pinned under the ceiling fan
Flung on the bed
Like we were clothes
Just pulled from the dryer

How I loved my body next to you ¬¬¬¬
pressing your length against me

We left the clinic with a gauze dried red
Like a blanket flower
We used a payphone to call a friend
To drive us home
And I had a sobbing in my chest,
Stone heavy that didn’t make a sound
Drowning in the mornings
Pointing fingers, counting regrets

You fell asleep against me on the couch.
Listening to the June bugs thumping against the screen
The bottoms of your feet were black from being barefooted
And I could feel the rise of your side
Becoming in time with mine
As we took the air in the room and
Turned it with our breath
Like the apartment was a prayer wheel
And the tip of my tongue was the point of a top
And you, it’s spinning crown

How I loved my body next to you
Held like a heartbeat
strung like a sentence
Counting afternoons
In cigarette burns on the windowsill.

– Corey Johnson

editors note:

Sweet regrets over choices made with a sobbing in the chest. – mh clay

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