NochebuenaAnd then at ten-thirty
the scratched-up Water Music
began to skip and at the red
three truck-bed Mexicans
sucked blue Gatorades
and turned to stare.
Handel was one of those blunt gestures
we tried back then
to seem like adults or aliens
from a more interesting planet,
to make the sand on Sixteenth
seem like a clue in a dream,
where the Chinese
mothers on Segways smiled,
remembering replicas in Zheijiang.
And at eleven, parked by the pool
with the tiny floating frogs,
like shaking leaves, your hands,
I was cold and surprised. You kept talking
about petroleum, that year, about Chavez
who died of CIA cancer,
still begging the hitmen
to live to see his revolution.
I remember how slick your skin
was that I touched
only that once, open-eyed
at the anime above your bed,
naked like a skinned rabbit. At noon
I gave you my only friend’s number
by a sushi aquarium, and I felt
in the dim quick burbling
that this was finally the end,
the way I often felt, back then,
when things were so new and fresh
and rippling with despair,
each time, since the first of anything
could never compare to hope
so every discovery
was a priceless permanent loss, like
buying Djarums at Sunoco
or when it began to rain
on the steps at one,
signs for the Sinbad the Shalimar
the Vagabond in fuzz, how lithe
you looked stretching under Exit,
asking what I’d wanted, a question
I never asked back then:
the answer was anything you’d give me.
There are other ways to get revenge,
you told me.
I needed to fuck you out of my system.
I drove home.
You’ve been dead two years,
now, dead like a shiny marble.
Esther Manov is a writer. You can find her other writing here here here here here here.