The Boiler

Lucian Mattison

PAPER SKIRTS

What if I painted
nudes—visions
of women, pale and dark
haired: one hunched
over her laptop
on the coffee table,
asleep on a black couch
swallowing her whole,
or belly up in bed
surrounded by unpacked
boxes—would you search
each face for another,
feel the acid of ex-lovers
like a peach pit
rooted in the lining
of your stomach? I say
the image of a woman
is just that, image,
whether whispered
over a pillow or caked
in layers of acrylic.
I tell you people
from our past are just paper
skirts casting shadows
across the soil
of our heads.
You know who we are
today couldn’t be
without the cascade
behind us, months foaming
at a river’s mouth, our eyes
two wet stones
looking out at the world
from sweet water.
I record years
for the sake of meaning,
but for you each old thought
of mine is paper
thin, a cut between
the fingers, meaningless
hurt, inescapably present.
You tell me this
in the car, seatbelts on,
the idle breathing beneath us.
We lean to kiss
in the darkness of the garage,
against the harness
strapping us to our places,
necks outstretched
toward forgiveness

__________________________

Lucian Mattison is an Argentinean American poet and author of Peregrine Nation (The Broadkill River Press, 2014) and Reaper’s Milonga, forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2017. He is the winner of the 2016 Puerto Del Sol Poetry Prize and his poems appear or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Hobart, Inter|rupture, Muzzle, Nashville Review, and elsewhere online and in print. His fiction appears in Fiddleblack, Nano Fiction, and Per Contra. He works at The George Washington University and is an associate editor for Big Lucks. To read more visit Lucianmattison.com.