Sestina for the Repressed
What if I said you could kiss
your best friend’s cool throat
at the holiday party’s end without
repercussion? What if, in fact, everyone
would cheer you on, including said lonely
friend, who has fancied you
secretly for years? What if you
could surprise yourself, throw kisses
like confetti to all the lonely
Baptists on your block, whose throats
look like everyone
else’s, naked that is, without
the slightest smack of lipstick, without
the faintest blush of guilt? You
could teach a useful truth everyone
is dying to learn, how one kiss
can alter a life’s forecast, how the right throat
against your mouth repairs all your lonely
years in an instant. Only the lonely
can dream of this: passion without
consequence, lips inchworming from throat
to earlobe, but you—yes, you—
about to pop like overdone pudding, could kiss
regret goodbye. Why not try for one
wild night? Two stockinged thighs, one
rogue thumb traveling like a lonely
pilgrim to the holy land. See, Judas’s kiss
was a blessing, not a betrayal. Without
him, there’s no story. Without mistakes, you
miss the point of life. Like a ruby-throated
hummingbird, you go unheard. In your throat,
Yes sticks like a wad of sourdough. The one
person who knows you best could hurt you
with her disappointed face…if only,
her eyebrows might say, her lust flaming out.
Fear is heartache’s father. With a kiss,
Fear tucks you in. Night’s lonely throat
swallows chance after chance until you’re out
of shots and left with no one to kiss.
Teenagers Making Out in Rose Hill Cemetery
Their leather jacketed bodies rollick
against cracked gravestones.
Like a rebellion.
Her greedy hands grasp
his collar, his fist grips
a rope of her wispy red hair.
The air can barely contain them.
To kiss like that
would kill me.
Bring on death, I think, if it’s from that.
Only, I didn’t come here to die,
or even honor the dead,
just to walk in a clean, quiet space,
green hills like manicured nails.
I came to forget
the ache left
after the act of love.
And here they are, bright reminders,
writhing as if pierced by arrows
between the shoulder blades,
their elbows beating the sky
like vigorous wings.
The Morning After My Bilateral Mastectomy
The surgeon having not prescribed morphine,
I could only survive by pretending I was elsewhere.
Searing pain from the eviction of both breasts
blazed through my body like a grease fire.
I imagined lounging on a scarlet beach towel
beneath a punishing sun, heels digging into hot sand.
The IPC cuffs inflating around my legs
were a blond man’s hands massaging my calves.
Between the inhales and exhales of hospital machines,
I asked the blond man, what’s your name?
Intermittent, he whispered. Pneumatic, he blew on my knees.
Compression, he squeezed tighter. Device.
His long fingers inched up my thighs.
Not with my husband close by, I murmured.
Then my husband, who lurked in the hospital room corner
all night, was at my side. What is it? Do you need the nurse?
His wan face, wrinkled from sleep, hung over me
like some reverse dreamcatcher. Water, I said,
though what I wanted was an island, quiet and dry.
A tangerine bikini and a man who could talk me out of it.
Sara Pirkle is the author of The Disappearing Act, which won the 2016 Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry. Her poems have been published in Rattle, Reed, Entropy, TAB, The Raintown Review, Emrys, and Atticus Review, among others. Sara has received writing fellowships from The Anderson Center, I-Park Foundation, and The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences. She is the Assistant Director of Creative Writing at The University of Alabama, where she also hosts the Pure Products Reading & Lecture Series.