Sarah Sweeney

Other Women

At 2 a.m. we're eating
cold pizza by moonlight,
wearing the telephone
like a necklace
or noose, drunk
with perfume
and a name not
our own, a hollow flap
of tongue against
bed sheets, one strand
of her dour hair—
We crave dirty films
and cigarettes,
candlelight for reading,
books that never
end. We want
perennial summers
and skin, to slip out
when she comes in,
to carry nothing
tangible, to leave
fingerprints everywhere.
We want letters
with invisible postscripts,
metaphors instead
of memories—
We wish to remain
nameless. Call us
bobbypins stuck
between sheets, poems
written in lipstick,
find us
at the end of hallways,
exiting through windows,
the breeze blowing
the curtains in.

Love Poem

I'm in love with the hands that pass me change
and iced coffee this morning, the fingers
with wedding bands and mood rings,
scars from ovens, new knives, or cats.
I love the morning men in gray suits
on the train: I stare into their faces,
imagining their lives funneled down
to the most mundane scrap,
how they tie their shoes in the morning
bent on the bed in silence, their heads bowed
like priests. I love the half-nude coeds,
all slender legs and fake tan,
their perfumes of coconuts and dorm rooms
and Marlboro Lights.
I fall in love with babies and dogs, faces
in newspapers, my coworkers and bosses,
rock stars I will never meet, one
John Denver song, strangers
who eye me on buses, the bicyclist going left.
And today I read about the 13-year-old
who robbed a bank somewhere
in Michigan, or Nebraska,
one of those states you never hear about,
until you do, and think, Oh my god,
I love Iowa, too. I-OH-WA,
the sound my mouth makes when it kisses,
when it opens its wet and murky cave,
my tongue sliding out like the big sloppy monster it is.
I love my professors and doctors, the postman,
I even love my landlord, my ripper-offer, casher
of checks half my paycheck.
I am in love with my brother when he's sober
and my boyfriend when he's sleeping
and my old best friend who tried to scam
my insurance company, hell, I love all my enemies,
because loving is easy and so hard,
and country music relies on this dichotomy.
I love dichotomy, a word I learned late in life
from someone I loved and have forgotten,
and when I think of all the people I've forgotten
standing faceless in a row in my brain,
I want to shout, I love you,
as though I were shoving off to sea with my makeshift boat
and bindle. Sometimes I am so alive with love
that I become a soul song, a thick-voiced
black man, all honey and sweat and love,
Sam Cooke singing in the boombox of my heart
as I walk down the road and I've turned into my summer dress,
airy and floating and grazing my thigh
like a whisper that melts into the night I've become
as I undress in my dark bedroom, alone, and think of you,
all of yous—so in love with love
that my heart is always breaking, the cracked
glass vase of my heart, glued and chipping.