You called me your Jenny.I asked if that made mea whore and you the idiot,which you didn’t find funny.I was envisioning our lacqueredbodies adjoining in a languagewe have finally grown up enough to speak.We could rap for hours:into tape recorders, over your mother’s kitchen island, in bowls of shito and codfish and rice. You call meout when years later I come home and ask if “someonewill pass me the pepper,please.” Sometimes I wasthe whore and you were the idiot. You threaten notto let me eat it, as if I have forgottenthe taste of lightning or ash or you-r Ghanaian mother’s nipple which,I believe she sometimes usedto feed the both of us.My fingertips and my lips still burn[from the cigarettes].There were times when my motherbegged yours not towash us in the same bath and she didnot listen, cleansing the cruelPuritanical stench of our Middle-Americanupbringing in sponges and bubble soap.I think about how your hairalways smelled of anise. The bright pinkbud of your still-fresh circumcision,I was too young to understand, or understand why I remember this,or why when your Ghanaian father finally triedto hide our nakedness from each other—as we grew older,together, and too unashamed—your mother called this wanderlust “showing off.”Sometimes I was the whore. When I fly in to visit your parentsyou show up high, driving a black BMW,raiding the French door refrigeratorfor Swiss cheese and grass-fed milk. You liftyour lips to the carton, catch me watching your arm flex into a murderof crows, a million shattered shingles.Lord, make me a girl. So I can fly far, far away from here,
from every away that led me far from this.You are like a song in a broken photograph. You say, when I got marriedit broke your heart, but I keptasking my heart “Home, where are you?” You drive backto Baltimore for your girlfriend,through the deer-scattered forest of the restof this country. I lay in the dark,in your parent’s guest room,wanting to touch myselfagainst the furniture, to feel like the roarof a car engine between my legs,but instead lay naked as a questionwhile I fall asleep knowingevery man that will ever touch mewill not be you, no matter how fast I run in my dreams. Sometimes I was the idiot. My phone is vibrating at three am, are-you-still -up?, although I haven’theard from youin months and I almost thinkyou are wanting to say we’ve lostsomeone. Still, at three am what could a beautiful man have to saythat isn’t bad news. I’m not marriednow. Maybe you’ve heard it. Maybeyou are drunk and Patrónhelps you pretendyou are a lion. I ask you about the musicyou are still trying to skin around, a reason to make this story intorecord, and in some small way I still believeyour heart-song is an elegy to the timethat grew between us— like going from a beautiful childto an awkward doll—and the wildernessthat fills everything else. Sometimesyou were the whore. You don’t callfor a year. The next time I see you, we at your father and mother’s Ghanaiandwelling, toasting the blessingsof a Middle-American upbringingWith Australian Shiraz and two Ivy League importedcousins. I touch your perfect arm, brandedin a sleeve of ink from the stint you did upstate.When I ask you, you don’ttalk to me about any of it. You say I amtoo removed, too unavowed to knowhow your skin feels underneath, this world you have put on in cuffs. Perhapsyou knew no other way to assimilatethan to be shackled by this country’s past—this Middle-American upbringing. You areits native son, its black boydressed in the suit of a manuncertain what that means yet.My fingertips and my lips still burnfrom the past. These new lashesupon your arm like the burn fromcigarettes.Don’t you know you run my mind boy? …running on my mind. Boy::a picture of our first kissis still stashed in my childhood belongings.We are at the Renaissancefair. You are carrying a swordand I, wear a princess crown. Sometimes we were the idiots who believed the futurewas just the past made nakedand whole, again.