Hair of the Dog Aubade
Maybe it’s the whiskey, or Neko Case’s voice—
nevermind. I’m complicit, I know. It’s our affair,
our thin promise to do and not do this again.
To suffer. Threadbare as the curtains that cover
the window behind you. Your mouth, a hymn.
This room, too damn bright. I refuse to feign
even as you say the damned sun sings betrayal.
Always I shrug. Our duet rings like tenderness
untrained, not treachery—I know that you know:
suffering’s the whole point. Let’s meander back
to what brought us here: doleful chords under
hazy spotlight—you’ll be in my arms tonight—
disco ball petals and whisky to steer us across
a bare dance floor—there’s no need to cry.
What he calls you
when he’s hungry and craving
the savor of your hips, your thighs, your ass.
You are a chanteuse upon a sparse stage,
your skin dappled in petals of sunlight.
The occasion of this afternoon:
a song of salt. He claims yours
as his life’s preservation—rare
and vital and longed for.
Still, you and this afternoon are finite.
He wastes nothing: gnaws at your breasts,
strains to savor your nipples on his tongue—
cebollas patatas jamón
piquant desire, rich, mouth-
melting, marbled with salt and fat.
You sing a prominent note, though paper-thin;
a fleshy translucence on his tongue.
The way he knocks you on your back,
his head between your legs—
you laugh, Are you starving?
Hear him answer
Yes from between you
Yes, and I will eat you alive—
he smacks his lips and you feel him
grin wide; hear yourself
shudder with the persistence of his hunger,
shudder, surprised by the light found
warbling beneath the surface; flesh
long-hidden, finally warmed by the sun.
Lift his head with both hands
and kiss him:
devour his lips and tongue.
Watch sunlight settle on your skin.
Raise two glasses of cold, bone-dry
manzanilla—toast to the crisp gleam of this
sea-legged sherry, the heady bright afternoon,
the slaked thirst of your lover. The song
in his mouth and your own.
Michelle Peñaloza grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. She is the author of two chapbooks: landscape/heartbreak and Last Night I Dreamt of Volcanoes. Her poetry can be found in The Asian American Literary Review, The New England Review, TriQuarterly, Pinwheel, and elsewhere. She lives in Seattle.