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Autumn 2020 Poetry

summer sink

by Malia Mendez

The faucet water runs hot,
And in tandem with summer
Refracted through an opened window, 
The heat plants glistening beads upon my forehead. 

I wipe still-dripping hands onto neatly-ironed pants
(kitchen rag is still in the hamper), 
But realize I have neglected a plate, blue bone china, 
And plunge my hands back into the browning sink. 

Chipped kaolin ridge with gilded koi slices my ring finger
Clean, muted red wine blood with soapy water, 
Tugs at the nerve ending, as body forges its own
Riot against the heat. 

I wipe again — the severed skin folds over 
Itself, milky and slender, 
Its curvature a rebellion, but easily stifled 
With a pair of culinary scissors. 

There are pains that are simpler
Once the excruciating bite is borne, 
In the name of extended relief. 
Many pains of the body are this way. 

I suck like a leech until the blood slows, 
Wipe a third time, searing against my linen thigh, 
Mummify the wound, cauterizing atmosphere
Licking it sealed. It is summer

So the alley fills, too. Out the window, 
Children blow bubbles out of topsy tails
Like the ones my mother used, tying my hair into knots, 
That would stay, tight, for the week she was gone. 

A toddler carries a speckled leaf to their mother, 
She tucks it behind her ear;
She has learned well to tuck 
The most beautiful things away. 

I tug at the wiry curl behind my ear, 
And a strand catches in the wound:  
Reopened, 
It bleeds hot. 

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