Venus Thrash is the author of The Fateful Apple which was nominated for the 2015 PEN Open Book Award.
Love eludes me. I can name a thousand reasons.
The woman with a flair for revenge who tie-dyed
all my whites, the woman with the crooked smile
at the last lesbian bar confessing between drinks
her hatred of women, the woman with the firm ass
and youthful nonchalance flying from mildly agitated
to all-out war in seconds, the woman who pulled
from a fake designer purse snazzy magenta lipstick
and a six-inch knife
the woman who got away.
But baby, this twisted view of love is not my own.
This is what I hope instead, of love, to find you wanting
and unexpected as a breeze blowing kisses on the skin
in the thick of summer, to be rendered nearly breathless
when I take you by the hand, to long for me even
when I am near and naked and lounging on the grass
in a shaded grove, tears safe enough to shed
in your benevolent grace, yes to a walk in the park
in light rain, a bouquet of wild tiger lilies delivered
by singing telegram in the middle of an ordinary
day, an arm around the waist without hiding, a bowl
of chilled oranges good enough for breakfast, sliced
in wedges, served in bed, a scarlet dress fit for a harlot
lifted thigh-high in a dark theater, a zipper undone,
an eager crotch, spooning, talking ourselves to sound
sleep as the stairs to our room grow more impossible
to climb and that old silver moon slips forever
from the late-night sky.
SISTERHOOD OF SORROW
What to make of this growing sorority?
This kinship of sorrow? Mothers of unsung
daughters killed by police, mourning
baby girls in rooms unfazed by sudden
death, where memory won’t die but leans
back in an empty chair, fusses in a bathroom
mirror, kicks off her shoes, or naps
on the sofa to never wake, forever 7,
forever asleep, or hangs out in an alleyway
with friends, voluminous laughter bounces
along the walls still, rain logged teddy bears
sag toward the ground, tattered ribbons blow
away with the wind, or splays in the doorway
where she last stood giving up without a fight,
where each subsequent sweep and mop,
the threshold spills more blood, the floorboards,
the doorjambs, the splattered walls, or rolls around
in a hoopdie with a turbulent engine heard halfway
down the block that will never pull up to the house
again, every beat and throb of the speakers a reminder
of a home now silent, every profanity an endless
raging scream, every night a memorial no one else
attends, every day another death, another restrained
and choked unconscious, another tased to breathlessness,
another trapped in the maze of her own mind abruptly
put at ease, another ride-or-die come true, another old
lady behind on rent, refusing to pay for freezing pipes,
a toilet that won’t flush, a warm fridge, evicted
without mercy in a rush of gunfire, another executed
holding a son not even two, another gunned down
in a no-knock on the wrong door, another hanging
after three days in jail for a minor traffic stop.
Chant their names in the streets. Hold them in your vigils.
Count them among the lives that matter.