C. E. Giaimo


Underground at the Purple Turtle, amidst smoke
and promiscuity, a month before the cigarette ban
blew clean the bars of Oxford, I was with my third

glass of wine, being pulled close by a stranger,
watching the boy I wanted want another girl,
want her aggressively, with tongue,

and it was summer but English summer,
the stone walls cool like the cinderblock
of a college dorm.

And outside it was raining, predictably,
rain hitting Blackwell's store front, the boarded-up
Ashmolean, rain forcing words from us

that would have remained unfathomed,
rain mixing us like sediments of chemicals,
rain floating us together, diluted.

And I didn't care that the blue from my bra showed
through my peasant top, didn't care that I could not write about rain,
didn't care that this was all a prelude to navigating the A train

on urine-sprayed streets, to being twenty-four
and watching the boy I wanted want another girl.
And now it is summer but North American summer

And the person touching me most intimately
is the toothless man on the subway
who steadies me when we stop.

And the city is filled with Upper East Side mattresses,
with people living less in their heads,
who see a mouth they want to kiss

and kiss it. There is a bar at the corner
of Church and White. There is a pint glass filled
with Stella and foam. There are my hands,

wrapped tight around it
and empty on the commute home.

C. E. Giaimo studied English and creative writing at Princeton University and has also studied for a master's degree in England. She is currently working in New York.

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