Leslie Marie Aguilar


When I ask my sweetheart to fill my chest with light, he shifts his weight from one leg to the other & cups a bulb buried in the furthest lamp of our bedroom. His hands cradle the warmth like the way he tries to balance my head in his arms the night I am too much with the world & collapse on the bathroom floor—bursting the blood vessels beneath my eyes, howling at vaulted ceilings, calling out toward constellations with names I cannot remember. He coaxes me with imagined crowns made of gold & places the braided rings around my head, turning the worry in my mind to a seafoam green that splashes softer against my skull.
                                                                                                                        But about the light, he carries it slowly. Afraid to let any of the energy escape before it makes its way beneath my chest plate & into the space where a heart muscle is / should be / was / will be —. My sweetheart is a healer with delicate hands that gather silver threads from the air above our bed & weave them together to create a veil. It covers my eyes so that I can rest, can grieve, can be alone with the feeling that all the stars are slipping away, that the heart words are failing, that I am too much with & without, that my body aches. But my skull expands beyond these silver borders. Ready to carve new boundaries. Ready to draw new maps. Ready to find vibrant ways of shouting, I am angry / sad / lonely / grieving for a life made more terrifying by the ordinary.


I let out a laugh that played backwards might sound like a moan or the sound a fatherless child might make, but my father isn’t dead. So, I laugh as an insult to the god who wears aviator headphones & a distressed denim jacket. The god with a perfect man bun that lilts as he walks along pedestrian crossings & ignores all means of answering my calls. I’m beginning to wonder if praying is a bit like dating. If so, I’m out of practice. I imagine prayers as brass arrows shooting through the holes in my ears—reason enough for a man to ignore a woman. Fear of penetration. Fear of blood. If I’m listening correctly, god is a static signal that radiates from distant stars & is just as explosive. His love is like asking for a favor & getting a black hole in return.


I’m grieving for another past life left dancing in the street across from a parking garage, down the street from a dive bar, caddy-corner to a Farm-to-Table restaurant. I’m remembering the past few months in five hundred words or less. Afraid to wean off the wolf teat that feeds me in my dreams. I’m unsure of what I’m doing without a parade of four-legged animals leading me up flights of stairs. Toward shelves of books I haven’t read. The six extra pounds gathered around my ribs are making it harder to breath. I tell the whiskered silhouettes. But the weight looks like another body pressed against my abdomen, clawing its way out. The animals wait. They speak in a language like a whisper, offer me bits of honeycomb for my belly, & suggest I give birth to a mended self already.


Leslie Marie Aguilar originally hails from the heartland of Texas. She has served as the Poetry Editor of Indiana Review and received her MFA from Indiana University. Her work has been supported by the National Society of Arts and Letters and the Fine Arts Work Center. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Bellingham Review, Callaloo, Ninth Letter, Rattle, Sonora Review, and Southern Indiana Review among others. She is the author of Mesquite Manual (New Delta Review, 2015).