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A Prostitute Revisits Her Ex-Lover’s Room

She presses her tongue
against the boxwood floor
and can almost taste that night:
the Bordeaux staining her lips,
the tang of turpentine steeped everywhere--
into his bare walls, his rags, and even his ears.
His conversation never starved
but boiled over, likening half-peeled potatoes
to the Alpilles Mountains,
her eyes to ripe olives
savored there. She remembers
the frame of his face sagging
over the bedpost, orange wheat fields
bristling across his sallow cheeks,
and the crimson coverlet, stiff and coarse
as aged bread crust, how it cracked
under the weight of his hand over hers,
no longer timid but bold, with meaningful strokes.
When she whispered "tournesol," his breath
smoked, each syllable, a glowing coal
in his mouth. All of this before glass shatters,
before wine splatters over the floorboards,
before the taste of that night will blend
lead and sour plums on the bloody canvas
of her tongue.


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