Rachel Lallouz

post-coital tristesse 

I am a catch of driftwood hewn over, hard and wet as the gray floorboards beneath us. In comes the cat, silk until she reaches the bed. You are asleep, and she curls around my head, bossy and butting my hands. I’ve never met such a bossy cat, never had such a hard bite into my shoulder as you make me your shadow, as we double, kneeling, on the bed. It is always over too soon—I could spend hours—but there is such a thing as sleep, I hear other human beings like to do this, and you ease into it with no hesitation at all. I hold on to the moments before, to the gray light and your panting which is both soft and completely uncontrolled, ragged in this poor bed: a bare mattress resting on wood pallets once holding boxes of spoiled fruit in an alleyway. You crack into the air, suspending dust motes, sleeping bags piled high on top of us. The light sifting in from the waxy window shows me the knobs of your spine as you keel over, become a snail for me again and again. I know we both make slippery tracks on the sheets, on each other, leaving trails of breath drying, and as you slip away from me, I understand the age-old clich√© of tears after sex. Post-coital tristesse. A symptom. The ultimate form of sorrow, perfect as sugar.

Rachel Lallouz is an English graduate student at the University of Victoria. She has been published in Plenitude Magazine, Spectra Journal, Cactus Heart Magazine, and Crab Fat Magazine, among others. Rachel is the winner of Plenitude Magazine's Cornucopia Prize for LGBTQ* Fiction. She was a 2017 poetry participant with the Summer Literary Seminars in Tbilisi, Georgia, and recently returned from a writing residency at Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences in Rabun Gap, Georgia (US). In March 2018, Rachel released a co-written chapbook, After Tbilisi, with New York poet Olena Jennings.