PRESERVATION, Jesse Rice-Evans

by Jesse Rice-Evans

My arms spread eagle,
I flake and scatter with the wind—
draw lines between our skin.
I could have done so much worse,
bird in a ship, clamoring

I scrapbook every ribbon, every scrape
where you latched on and dragged down,
each finger a hook of want,
hips pillowing through spread knuckles—

I am never less alone
than when you fold my arms into ropes,
knot me like a sail, ride me
like a nightmare, sweat dewing my hairline,
window a smear of fog,
Taurus moon idling above.

If there was a way to keep my marks,
permanent stripes of longing, I would
brand your fingerprints on my shoulders,
bloom of flesh between my legs,
each small wound tended to, a fire dim
but smoldering.

If there isn’t a conduit nearby, you
sure fooled me. I am a broken dam,
flooded creek raked over by boots
and oak leaves, tomboy in warm colors.

I swallow mothballs, seeking preservation.

You try on clothes, tie my tie

I have never wanted to be someone else so much.

You find me in the foyer pocketing candy. If I beg for your hands on me, it’s because I am cold to the touch, brimming with impatience, floral scarf.

Tell me I will recognize myself outside of your clothes. Tell me to look closer, ask me for a secret, a scary story. Ask me to take off the blazer, curl up behind you, ask me to stay. Without you, I am a boat unmoored, salt flaking paint. Anchor me with your long legs.

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About barkingsycamores 183 Articles
Barking Sycamores is a literary journal entirely edited and operated by queer neurodivergent people of color. We publish poetry, artwork, short fiction (beginning with Issue 3), creative nonfiction (beginning with Issue 8), and hybrid genre work (beginning with Issue 9) by emerging and established neurodivergent writers as well as essays on neurodiversity and literature and book reviews (beginning with Issue 10).

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