Sleep

Stephanie Dickinson



                                            
You sleep on the edge leaving space for a third person to curl between you
and your lover whose feet hang from the bed. He couldn't be thinner or
taller, an intellectual who smokes too many cigarettes; smell of Camels and
B&B seep from his mouth, a rot of lily stems sent up from his esophagus.
Awake you'd see him naked and think of emaciated men with hands crossed over
their genitals, kneeling before their own graves, unending femurs, fists of
shoulders. You'd see the knuckles of his toes, his ankles, but the long
shanks of their calves. When he puts his tongue on you something melts, but
when you take him in your mouth you could be in a dusty open field where
dogs prowl

love-lies-bleeding 
Violetta & Daisy: last of the great sideshow Siamese twins


Even when you were ten, Violetta, you had eyes only for men so when the
two-bit trumpet player came in bronze and black mustache, I knew enough.
"We're separate sensually," you bragged and blew him kisses from the stage,
our singing act just after the bear woman displayed the ragged wedges of her
breasts and just before the camel girl walked on her backwards facing
kneecaps. Never alone, not a breath in my lungs that wasn't caught by you.
Now I lie all to myself and wait like I did for him. The Houston Chronicle
had paid for everything even the bruised flesh of the yellow moon seeping
over the sheets. I smelled the Sen Sen licorice on your tongue. Bit my lip,
tasted bile. Bellhops in red velvet jackets at the keyhole glimpsed your
lucky trumpet player husband in the gilded Louis XII chair, working his
courage up. A dozen Mai Tai. How dwarfed he was by the swan-necked purple
love-lies-bleeding. Head slumping over heaps of crawfish in puddles of
Tabasco sauce, his shark eyes glittered like diamond stickpins just out of
hock. My body steamed. Sweat collected between my breasts, cascading over
the page of Bleak House I kept reading. You mewed and kissed, licked his
earlobe until he found the haunch that bound us-the flap shinier than
afterbirth blooming from the humid womb of a sow. Remember the other famous
twins, the Chinese ones? The drunk went first, dropping like a millstone
into death, dragging the Christian brother after.



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