I believed in signs, so I never stopped searching,
waking panicked in your bed in darkness,
eyes darting as I listened to translate
the question of the owls' nighttime chant.
Foggily, you'd wake and I'd tell you my bizarre dreams
where you appeared as a wolf or reptile
I adopted and tried to tame. Insomnia,
you said, Take your pills, you suggested,
I'm worried, you cooed. You shawled
our bodies in layers of comforters, and I sniffed
for perfume, looked for another woman's hair
mapped across your pillow. You sought
my tongue every morning, ready to sip
you like bitter coffee, desperate to wake
from the worry, as you laid yourself upon
my body, a cramped bed of monstrous knots
yanking muscles taut, multiplying beneath
you like furious tumors. In the blurred prisms
of kitchen windows and sun, I made your coffee,
checked for lipsticked mugs, spooned heaps
of sugar, then climbed back into bed,
because you were something I could hold onto,
a steady ladder I could climb rung by naked rung,
even if your toilet clogged with condoms
and cigarette butts while I was away.
I craved Chamomile tea with honey—sticky,
syrupy, fragrant—but with you I took it plain,
pure as the pain of you not saying my name in bed.
I didn't ever want to ask, so I singed my tongue
with something unsatisfying. I told myself
I never needed anything sweet.
Anne Champion is the author of Reluctant Mistress (Gold Wake Press, 2013). Her work appears in Verse Daily, The Pinch, Cider Press Review, PANK Magazine, The Comstock Review, Thrush Poetry Journal and elsewhere. She was a 2009 Academy of American Poets Prize recipient, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and a Barbara Deming Memorial Grant recipient.