I meet a man obsessed with bones. He runs impatient fingertips over my ribcage & grabs my hip bones & kisses my teeth instead of my lips, uninterested in my soft parts entirely, favoring instead everything pokey & sharp. I wonder if I have anything soft left, or if you took that with you, if I’ve been hardening since we parted, like bread growing stale & clay in the kiln. Nothing malleable left, nothing that gives & nothing left to give.
There are things you own, like “baby” & brussels sprouts & sunbeams & bells. Like the purple glow of Taco Bell & wedding bells & church bells, ringing every hour in the foreign cities I live in now, summoning worshippers, believers in something. You do not own bones.
I’ve been so cold since I saw you last, though I huddle by fires & redden my skin in showers. Guillermo & I share bedrooms on a trip in southern Bolivia, so our honeymooning companions can have their giggly privacy, & we share a bed too, after he notices my trembling, even in three layers of leggings & my coziest (my only) sweater, & I think he imagines I am someone else, something about the way he sighs, like he is remembering someone far away, someone he held like he holds me now, shaking against his soft belly, & we never mention it in the daylight, how we were wrapped around each other & trusted one another in the dark, & how my teeth still chattered in sleep & do you ever sigh like him, when you are holding someone who isn’t me?
Even the sun cannot reach my bones these days (I meet a man obsessed with bones), though she tries, she just rests atop my skin, & she’s a sip of whiskey, a taste of what warmth is like, & I cannot stop myself, I think of you before the chill returns.
Maggie Hart is a writer, traveler, retired bartender, and cancer survivor based in Colorado. She is a graduate of Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Previous publications include The Audacity, Cold Mountain Review, Glass Mountain, and Little Village Magazine.