1510 c/o Kelly Schirmann


Suddenly it is only the ships and their cargo. Her eyelids heavy as heavy sailing canvas. Wooden boats streaming down the ocean's cheek to London's mouth, letting us taste their salt. I carry a pouch of lavender, go shuffling along the dockboards in the tepid sun, where the shorewater greys like her lips and skin in the light. The sounds she makes upon waking, the sores on her white arms like wet open mouths. We shuffle in slight crowds, shirtcollars round our necks. Loud laughing men heft crates from the guts of ships and throw them to the docks below, their arms soothed with Spanish spices, the hands of dark healthy lovers. They squint at our boiled shapes. We watch them pitch their crates, minds elsewhere. Her cold, grey mouth. And then, at last, their strong brown bodies form a line. They heft their crates to each other to each other to the sunwarmed dock. Our grey tongues licking the bones of our lips. Suddenly the swoon of color, the audacity of something living. Sounds of lungs filling. Sounds. Oh. Knives are produced, boards ripped open to reveal. Their plaintive brown faces, gold petals brushing roughened cheeks. Sounds of mouths moving. Oh. There is no movement at first, then much. The grey tide of us rushing forward, hands on other cold bodies. We are so hungry. My coins smell of lavender, find a rough open palm. Palm finds her there, healthy. I wrest free of that sick tangle, the stench of hopelessness. To nothing. To the emptied streets home. Shuffle my feet along the sewery stones, eyeing the grey waves. Twirl its green stalk in my fingers. Pick off the petals one by one. Think of her red, red mouth.