--BUT YOU KNOW, YOU NEVER REALLY KNOW
Ways to Remember Birmingham
She gives her pets
Hunter and Red Mountain,
Oak, Valley, Tuscaloosa.
The gold fish are 1st through 9th Avenue.
She has the city tattooed across her chest so she can see
the campus in the mirror when she’s on top,
but the truth is
it’s been a long time,
and the fish are floating belly up
and the dog has diarrhea
and the embryo inside her has grown bad boy hair by now,
his hands and feet itching
to make their way into the world
with or without you,
The Rain in Birmingham
is wet luggage
that smells like hot bread
slathered with salty slabs of butter
that dribble bitter as your lips.
Your dad said he saw you
in a stole and shoulder-duster earrings.
I was wondering when you started liking ballet
instead of Birmingham
and boys like me,
born bearded and black-holed
so that rain shoots out ear-to-ear.
If you were here
you probably couldn’t stand the splatter
of all this inky oil that’s pooling
in my lap now,
taking the form of a head,
a face quite
similar to yours.
I keep leaving pieces of myself
in different rooms.
At first I think they are socks or candy wrappers
but one’s a finger and one’s a thumb,
and then there’s the issue of an eye in the sink,
two toes afloat in Dad’s old beer stein.
Wolfgang wails through the speakers
and I think he’s found my foot but instead it’s
in our Labrador’s drooling mouth.
I feel for my crotch and sigh because we’re still good there,
but then you walk through the door with a Chanel handbag
made of alligator and eel
and I recognize their color and stain,
the distinctive scars and skins of
your last boyfriends.