Volume 28, Number 2

Still Lifes With Tolerance

I don’t want to do your laundry. Laundromat gazes, catcalls, screaming addicts, and the catfish-whisker woman is going to pop if I’m washing my delicates in the sink when she wants to take a bath one more time. I don’t like what this city does to me. I came here for visions, not contemplations of terror while washing your work shirt, discount detergent coating my small gestures with matricide, stained yellow on my favorite blouse like my age spots, student loans, long teeth. Fine, you say, taking the basket away, at least your ass has never looked better.

I don’t want to come home on Fridays. I’d rather give the mattress time to breathe. You and me never talked too much anyway, special like that, and the night birds are howling like the slut-shamers, slut slut sluuuuut! and I can’t help myself once they get going, so we just start back up fucking, not because it feels good, but because this is a war, and this, our only weapon.

I don’t want to calm my tits except for when I do. My pill bottle, my choice. I choose the high dose, growing simple-minded in the medicine drawer, where I imagine I’ll keep my teeth, sucking your cock in my old age.

I don’t want to fall down the stairs. Rather drink away the baby that might not even be yours, my she-drinks-like-a-fish eyes bulging, no sleep, no service, no Medicare, but some years we still do okay, the nausea and sabotage like window well pigeon coos we forget are there.

I don’t want to leave the house just to piss in the park in a tangle of disorderly conduct and ruined silk that I’ll curse for tearing in the grass before stumbling home, rearranging all the rocks on my path to you, showering in water mild as the moon, all the hot gone this late, then dropping to my freshly cut summer knees and reaching for you, not because you never ask where I’ve been, but because it feels good to have rivers of fire and spit and breath inside of me for you to tunnel through on the belly of our bed, where our double lives all add up, and we make love like immortals until my body is hanging from your hands like a rag wrung of its chrism, so I ask you to take me out to dinner first.

—Loria Mendoza