John A. Nieves Tarnish

Ghost blood across your knuckles—

the sticky nostalgia of a sidewalk

prizefighter. I never dreamed curbs

as high as the one I’m on now, but

I know that on the other side

of my eyelids you are murmuring

obscenities in your sleep. Your teeth

and fists clenched. You hold me

like an auction. If there are bidders,

they’re buried so far in the shadows,

the room’s bitter corners, that they

border on myth. I see myself displayed—

a reflection on smoked glass. I am darker

than me, but translucent from both

sides. Outside, a buzzard pulls on

scraps in black snow. I catch its eye.

It sees itself in my chest, cranes its neck,

opens its wings. For a second,

I am an angel. They beat once

and leave me for soot-laced sky. Luckily,

stains don’t show on black. The night

forgets me into daylight. Morning

erases me. Leaves a thin pane, a hairline

fracture and dust impersonating rust.

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