The August Notebooks (Los Angeles, 2014)
The early days of our becoming
become something of a ritual:
in the mornings, CocoRosie and browning
onions at the bottom of a pan, stuck
sputtering in hot oil, the natural heat
of a California day late summered.
The coming together of your lips
saying blackberry. The too-strong smell
of fabric softener, the taste of unbrushed
tongues, a t-shirt with blocked lettering
I am first to feel
my own inconstancy and youth.
I stand before you, accused
by fears that swim through
the sea of your bruised mind.
I have no defense to offer.
My too-new body flickers
nightly: off, on, off, on.
To sit in a bathroom in a moneyed
house on the sea in Malibu listening
to the wounded animal that is a mother.
“I am trying
to understand,” she says, voice veiled
in throaty tears, begging toward
me and God. “All I want…” She
explains and cries in the same
beat. I in my careful silence hold
my breath, myself and my love
for her and the world as gently
as the blown-glass elephant standing
its guard on the salvaged table.
I have no wish to marry or to live
in San Francisco or anywhere
Myths become larger and more
important with the passing of people,
time, space. For instance, the one where
a Greek woman dies in the name
of honor, and also loyalty. “Fiercely
loyal,” Rena tells me, placing
bags of almonds on shelves, listing
Capricorn traits, referencing heroines
past and present.
The girlfriend, after fucking
around with crystals and a boy’s
heart, shows up after midnight
wanting to talk. She’s already lost
it. The boy gets into another girl’s
car and leaves her behind.
It will be years before he wakes
in the midday sun and carries
no thought of her in his mind.
“To be in love and in lust
at the same time.” She breathed this into
my neck’s own pleading
Playing catch-up on the telephone, listing
what the days amount to: disinterest
in sexuality, in the men they choose
to spend lives with, “maybe
we’ll move in together,” but “maybe he’s not
who I’m supposed to be with.”
Who am I
supposed to be with? Who am I
supposed to be? These fearful echoes
and more I hear and feel
an undeserved grace at a simple sensed certainty
when you and I are together: baggy t-shirts
and old Starbucks on a Sunday, naked
from the waist down, remarking to one another
at our own ridiculous good fortune.
In a parked car off the canals
in Venice, you told me
something that stole
the breath straight from
the open gape of my mouth.
I have been trying since
to remember what it was.
Erin McIntosh is a writer and actress currently living in Los Angeles, California. She served as the youngest judge and panelist for the inaugural CYBILS book awards three years running and also spent several years as part of the founding volunteer team for the award-winning non-profit organization readergirlz. Her poetry has appeared and is forthcoming in various journals including Bone Bouquet, Hawai’i Review, Plenitude Magazine and Speak Easy Mag.