by Erin Murphy

after Osip Mandelstam's No. 26

Those nights when morning
hung over you like a sentence,
you drank your way
into the glow others must earn,
and I learned to go along,
my mouth stained with
the sweet bitterness of tequila
pressed from your lips
to mine. Once outside
a Fells Point bar at 2 a.m.
you lunged toward me,
clasping my whole face
with those thick hands
that could have built bridges
or eased the pain of a sick child.
I thought you wanted me then.
I had longer hair and a habit
of tossing my head back
to keep the bangs from my eyes.
Haughty bitch, you teased.
But I was only trying to see.

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