Lauren Davis

Bent Water


I knew you before the drowning, when mid-spring we took into our mouths the creek,
wading out, our feet masked in muck. We took between our teeth thistle weed, lost bait and line.
You uncovered the mere beneath my tongue and asked to sample please and please again.
First sign of summer I unclasped the window, not unlike
when I unbuttoned the first of your shirt, exposing the ridges of your neck,
dip above the breastbone, my drinking pool. I bled your tarn dry,
sampled till stoned, sommelier of your fever, connoisseur
of the finer being of your body. I gutted you, my body swollen by drink.
At the autumn air’s insistence, I stole from your cigarettes the smoke, to taste what you tasted,
to learn intimately your lungs, the grotto of your throat, that riddled language.
I slipped to the Sea nightly, drawing with ash my confession for Her records,
reciting the smoke’s biography. She listened, She moaned. She knew its story well.

We left Her for the winter ocean. You needed water cold, dark, bottomless
I worked as a longshoreman, tired and half-distracted by satellites.
My eyes sealed shut by frost. I never saw the full moon pray you
into the polished noose of the Pacific, your knuckles raised in part-hearted surrender.
I only learned after the water gathered from your body into rain.
It fell to the Sea, who remembered, and sent a condolence of rivered tears, sealed with your kiss.


I Hummingbird Hover at Your Crux

I unshackle brass buttons,
slip off your 1000 thread silk cocoon
and liberate your gluten-free
torso with its hermaphrodite waist
and innocent areola—pink tight
and shy like unkissed schoolboys.
I tongue lock their virgin lips. I turn them to men.
Your arms, helpless as caught thieves,
flaunt muscle with marble rifts.
I suck and nibble each lift
and slope, slop them up without
Coke or bib. I hesitate at your Rolex,
glittering, vulgar on your wrist.
I turn a mistress eye to its glint
and take your thumbs
and eight saints in my mouth,
mine them for salt and bitter herb.
I hummingbird hover here
at your crux with its heart and gut.
I dare not go north, looking over
your throat at a hundred types of foreign
fruit. If I break your mouth
in halves and scoop out the ruby meat
with its magic seeds, how would
I ever return to your belly
to drink. And how could I unsnap
your latch and gather
all your good and hungry
when I have this. How would I not
stumble into abyss amidst the haze of my dig.
Above the belt I stay
and pray by my every stroke and bite
that you insist—by loaded gun
or beggar’s plea—that my hands
land soon please at the Bermuda triangle
of necessity.




Cold dark, we walked
along the silent lake
looking for an excuse.

We found a beach of cairns—
at every turn sculptures
marking the path into water.
A stranger had chosen
each rock with care,
had given each intention
fashioning prayer—
watchful towers, fat pyramids
at the mercy of indifference.
You shrugged your coat
onto the beach between two stacks.
Delicate as the cairns,
we balanced kisses
on rainwater gathering
in a dip of a boulder
for the thirst of night horses.


The Mechanic

Because imprinted metal coiled up your forearm
as you washed the inked bolts—
snake eyes of your skin—in the garage sink,
I wanted to treat you like a machine.
I wanted to disentangle and flatten each steel grip and slant,
to test every deep line for shock, guzzle electricity at my throat’s socket.
And because you carried water up and down your lines,
because with regret I witnessed oil empty, tallying grit splayed at my feet,
I cart a bag of cables, to force your motor to sputter, snare
and suckle on hot fuel kinder than blood.


Long Quarrel with a Friend


I walk the pier alone at night.
Evening boats struggle with the wind,
their hands tethered to the lake’s feet.

We have become unthinking, friend.

By rooted anchors, the boats wait
for their captains’ directions, first resisting
then submitting to their place in deep water.

Promote. Poetry.
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