Cara Peterhansel Silence After Sound

You ask me if I’m sick again—

again, hushed, like it’s a habit

I’ve been trying hard to kick.

The words are sour, you

shy away from them.

You mean, am I infected?

Is there something leaking

from my pores, maybe those

memories I gave to you of

how I used to be, now spilling

onto your chest, ripping up my

cells like too-sharp shards of air,

splitting up my lungs, showing

all the flesh I’ve scarred?

You ask me why I read those books

if they do this to me. I tell you

it’s not her. My mind was already

turning soft and tasteless—

bruised and left to sit on an

empty table, throbbing at me,

before she gave me the words

to recognize the rotting pear.

Your chest is sweaty and my ear is

like a suction cup against uneven

glass. Your heart is beating the

way it does only after you come,

I watched you, your caught

breath, half-moan, closed eyes and

now you’re limp against me, cold

and I don’t answer you, just listen

to the fervent beating of your

satisfied heart.

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