At least for me, there is no blonde maze
confusing this smallest bathroom and
its endless water, I am china and all
his, easy. When I ex out the candles,
the wax left behind will be their own
failed séances, dark and meaningless
on his terms. He promises good morning
so said sediment's gone, the dust on the walls
rifled and bulleted for later poems. No what,
he nibbles into my ear, does our love have
to do with guns and war? With my flesh,
forbidden and fresh, lychee within the peach
within his wetted mouth? In this séance
sauna he's given me, I am purloined
with pearls and grief, sick to the tip of teeth
and other monsters he's writ for me. Oh honey,
you poor thing, come back to the bath, he says,
beckoning with arm gummy as lychee, canned
and hitched to this short trailer of my life,
this one-room montage of powder and shit
he's filmed for me. Shall I take his pretty arm too,
that stern solid I, some scepter or loofah
to christen myself with? Tied in suds as
the first bodies fall this year for someone
else's rapture. He says no this isn't blood-
lipstick on my collar, he says, no the dark
is dangerous, wait for good morning—
but I begin to count each glittering nail.
I begin to account for the I, told to be more
beautiful than blonde, preferred and coveted,
Freedom plays on the golden kettle and I scald
myself refilling the bath. He says to tell
my luckiest friends. Outside, the wooden horse
burns with the blackest of bodies
and he says Bitch, this is for you.
Hush Up or Bark
Not everyone wishes to be dog.
But to wag the sides of myself,
paws or teeth up, I could be quick
and two dimensional, I could be pure
as a moment. To fit my breadth
in dog years, to leave this body
behind, its nakedness, its soggy
calendars of salt. I could hunch down
in my little wood house of wanting,
wait for my life to come home.
Hem myself a dress of mud and drool.
I could want for bones, but give me
your shoe to gnaw and I could
bring down birds and their
branches, I could roll over as best
soldier. Be icon, be badge,
heroic profile staked down, my little button
of a nose. I could limp
in your arms, and I could still
as a purse. Is your dog cuter
than other dog, is your dog cuter
than me? But couldn't I be
the cutest you've ever seen?
Bad girl groveling bedded down,
am I so bad for wanting
you to be so happy
with me? If I put on that leash, hush up
or bark, everything I say could be
howl, unbelievably wide in rooms.
I could tear and foam with no fear
of undoing, my aperture of appetite
collared way, way down.
Michelle Lin earned her MFA from the University of Pittsburgh and her BA in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside. She was a former Gluck Fellow and an editor of the journals Mosaic, B. E. Quarterly, and Hot Metal Bridge. She has taught poetry for the LEAPS summer program, Young Writer’s Institute, and University of Pittsburgh. Her latest work is forthcoming or can be found in The Journal, Apogee, North American Review, ZYZZYVA, Aster(ix), and Phoebe.