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  • Christina Wood Martinez


“Your lips are like a bird,” I say. “And when you kiss me, I hear the most beautiful songs.”

You are motionless at the kitchen table, your face behind a magazine.

“Sometimes, when you speak, I watch the lines around your mouth and the soft skin under your eyes wrinkle and I am wholly distracted, I cannot hear a word you say.”

You sigh.

“I have faith in the goodness of people again when I watch you wake in the morning light. I write about your breasts in my dream journal. I have renamed all of my poems after you.”

You close your magazine and set it on the table. You take a sip of coffee. You don’t look at me—you haven’t wanted to look at me for days.

“Your hair is golden stardust, your lips a ripened plum. Your skin is milk, your breath perfume. Your stomach is Pacific.”

My voice falters. I can feel sweat beading on my forehead. I clear my throat. I begin again.

“When we lie in bed, I think of you and of all the things you do in your day when I am not with you, of the you I cannot see squeezing produce at the grocery store, biting your lip while you drive in traffic, taking a bath, calling your mother and leaving a very long message on her machine.”

You take a bite of toast.

“When we lie in bed, I touch your back and think of a white rabbit stretching and then curling up to sleep, I think of your lips touching my ear and whispering to me all of your favorite things to eat: borscht, mussels in white wine, pavlova with raspberry coulis. When we lie in bed, I think about each time I have undressed you. I remember them all. I think about undressing you and then dressing you again, buttoning the tiny buttons of your cardigans.”

You sigh and cross your legs and stare out the window, but something inside me is beating fiercely. I have to continue.

“Your mouth is a cool drink of water! Your eyes are two dark and terrifying burrows! When I touch your hand I am reminded of my youth, of long summer days and baseball and swimming laps, of sunburnt skin on cold sheets! Your arms are rivers! I often wish I was your child! My cock quakes like a sapling when I see you coming out of the shower! When we make love I imagine you as an old woman and I come and come again! I wish you were a chair, a pillow, a hammock! I wish you were a ring! Your legs are bolts of lightning! Your shoulders are mountains! Your buttocks are like two golden turkeys and when I see them I think of autumn in Vermont and Thanksgiving and pilgrims and home and I am possessed, I am forced to take you from behind! Your breasts are cumulus clouds! Your toes are freshwater clams! Your knees are turnips! Your hips are mercantile, your thighs like great ships! When we make love, I think of silks and spices and precious gems and trade winds and I am struck senseless, I am overcome!”

I stop. I am panting, out of breath.

Still, you are staring out the window. You have found something curious upon which to fix your gaze. I see, nearly imperceptible, a smile twitch your lips.

“Go on,” you say.


Christina Wood Martinez is assistant editor of Dorothy, a publishing project. Her fiction has recently appeared in Granta, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and the Sewanee Review. She lives in St. Louis.

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