The Ethics of Language
Let me tie you up, I said. & you let me. So simple sweet. Sexual kinks. I licked my raspberry lips. You walked me home that night. Your hand over my hand as I unlocked the door. Your steps in dance behind mine. From my words, there was only one truth, drinking your blood was my only purpose. Perhaps, you expected another. Vanilla. You were into it too, the silk neckties, until I pulled the knife. That knife is my favorite. How it curves & bends as it enters flesh. Serrates. Your arm. A slice of your knee, kept you from bending. As I carved my initials in your lower back. Shapes like stars. Geese, wild wings & cursive Vs.
When she acquired language, she lost access to the real & entered laws of the father—
Sex became bad,
baking / good,
dark / dangerous / lust,
pure / god / salvation / heaven / peace / light / love—Such a glossary to live inside, a pre-marriage, a lock before wedlock. To learn place. Become ethereal, vaporous space. Contained by corseted white lace. Squeezed & hourglassed. She couldn’t feel or tell her own time. It happened like this: standing in the kitchen, an apron & chains of dishes. Soap to elbows dripping, chasing thighs, closing pantry doors. Bleach / control / endings / clean / girl / rebirth. Father vowed to ensure purity. To burnish. Away lucid. Rings were exchanged.
Present / absent / sent.
It isn’t about what goes into the girl, but what leaves out.
That goes away.
The Love Hotel Letters
1. In the Idea
Should I tell you, it didn’t matter. You suspect me of the kind of faithlessness only God and naked bodies witness. I suspect you may be right. When. I’m not your prophetic medium, your second-sighted fey. I don’t know what hands will attract. How color composition, even in the umbra, is dictated by wavelengths of light. How shade mars, & turns away, despites its origins of clouds or trees or angled wings. How height is never a constant, only the falling of hues, the tinting of gone. You search for evidence: a hotel receipt, a photograph, undone ties, muskiness or damp lace, stippled moments suffused in my palm. Proof to support your claims, but you come away empty. Light-headed & faint. Anemically disappointed. Nothing in print. Only this desire to possess what your body can’t for certain know. I own the reason you can’t guess—
2. Kiss&Kill Pill
You handed me the clear green glass & an aspirin. So sickly sweet. I should have known, seen the amber-lit frenzy smoking your gray eyes. But I wasn’t thinking of your pain, while I eased the headache you gave with the yellow bowl that used to sit on our kitchen table. Used to fill with oranges. You wanted to be angry, to be glass breaking, a physical shattering. Without proof, without a catalyst to spark your plug. I wanted to be that cold, smoothing glass container. Telling the truth, or not, didn’t matter. But it should. I told you there was no answer in the subway-line veins of my palm, that I love you is a metaphor for nothing else. I was your object, water in a vase, rain from a rooftop, gutters rushing & swaying into the Hoover Dam. Your moment by moment definition of liquid. Your options were simple: A, B, or C (leave to travel & pine for what is left, stay & bear it, love oozing & never owned or die). You must know, as I knew, killing the object does not end this, only the ratio of pleasure to pain. What fades is the blue tinting my fingers, tiny burst blood & bruise.
I’m the littoral zone, the what’s in between high & low watermarks where most oxygenated things live, floating or rooted. The only place where there is enough gloss. When I’m inside, the body no longer knows itself, no longer accepts the markings in blood—self-antigens attack white & red blood cells. I fill the pit, the body, with struggles—Gravity-particles & chaos, multiple black-holes in a small area (all paths in space are warped inward). Time constructs how objects move, a force calculating escape velocity. Guitar strings & tension, lyric & narrative, vacuum air, double-paned windows & voyeuristic dust, candle flames & breath, glass & what’s reflected—the erosive power of marking, turning dunes into estuaries.
Mechanics of a Handyman’s Daughter
There was a moment her skin calcified, flaked & lifted—
Only friction ridges remained.
The frosted glass whipped & laughed at what could not be seen on its surface.
Outside, she thought, everything was facile, cake.
The chilled streets—bloody lanes of exhaust. She walks this route everyday.
Hands carburetor empty; she can’t fix what isn’t visible.
Her father taught her the view from under a car, black rainbows of grease.
Red heels—red paint flecks—more moments of raw skin.
Strangers with backs of hands, marked & marring, gloved.
That one’s dangerous.
Counting backwards, counting the falling is best. How many times an engine turns over.
People only go mad when they try to escape from routine.
Inside, she thought, everything was heated from sleep.
Her mother said, a girl should be asleep. It was New Year’s Eve.
Friday night, chandelier heavy & lost in thought.
Absence is more pleasing than presence. Anti-freeze.
Under cars, everything makes sense.
poetry has appeared in ListenLight and is forthcoming in The Tusculum
Review. She was a finalist in the 2006 Joe Somoza Poetry Prize.
Dorris graduated from the
University of North Texas with a MA in English.
Currently, she is working on her MFA in poetry and teaching English at
. She is also the
Associate Poetry Editor for
, as well as an Assistant Editor for Noemi Press.
Kara Dorris graduated from the University of North Texas with a MA in English. Currently, she is working on her MFA in poetry and teaching English at . She is also the Associate Poetry Editor for , as well as an Assistant Editor for Noemi Press.