Maybe we’re all soft-furred, foolish moths of a sort
This poem is part of “Straddling Convention: The Erotic in Asian American Poetry,” edited by Ocean Vuong.
Once you loved a girl who was the biggest bullshitter you ever met. It was impossible to believe a single thing she said, but she lied with such reckless, over-the-top bravado you couldn’t help but find the performance utterly compelling.
She had flushed cheeks, broad hands. A fleshy wealth of earlobes. Her too-big smile.
Mostly she jostled and badgered and pestered and bickered, but occasionally she’d quiet long enough so you could tap for a moment into that lucent orange current flickering on and off inside her, and when this happened she always made your mouth burn, your chest ache a little.
(Incandescence: Light-bulb filament’s sputtered tungsten vaulting to a higher atomic orbital, refusing to acquiesce to the cascade of electrons, but then the welder’s-torch sizzle of photon sparks when they shower down anyhow to their old orbits, like falling back into a bad habit. Maybe we’re all soft-furred, foolish moths of a sort— haunted by the moon and proved foolish by the counterfeit lumens of incandescence.)
She walked next to you with a little swagger, pulled out chairs, opened doors. An inventive choreographer of electrically ugly public scenes, she frequently needed the frisson of curious voyeurs.
Sometimes, late in the afternoon, you took her into your quiet bedroom, drew the curtains. There, in the pale gray light you slowly pulled off all her clothes, one by one, until the straight lines of boy’s clothes, the boyish posture, fell away and yielded to the plush curves of belly and breast.
Then you, still in your black turtleneck, black pants, and black boots, would arrange her limbs and smell and taste and bite and fuck her until the afternoon was no longer afternoon. Until there was nothing else but the flickered spark of her voice breaking open the dark.
This poem first published in the Nepotist.