To Madame X at my lunch table
You sit across from me.
Everything new is hard but
your face is soft and quiet your smile
constantly erasing itself.
Crack us open
you'll find the same violet grub.
I too have problems with my eyes
with letting people see them.
I fear being read.
You fear being heard.
I know just how you feel, you
with the wilting lily in your hair.
You're afraid the party's over
or that it's just started, and everybody
but you is in costume.
You want to live on air forget sleep
forget the hollow place in the bed
beside you forget the dark blue
of your blood when you are slicing
You want the grime in the street to stop
calling to you the one-legged man
laying on Avenue A
to stop shouting your name.
You look at a bridge and see a series
of "x"s not and not and not and
you don't like soda bread or raisins or wine.
You want to go to India but your feet will get
You don't sleep because your
dreams crab at you.
Get that lizard out of here!
your mother screams
the milk spoiling and your
mouth filling with feathers.
Hold my hand. I've been there.
Here's how it goes:
Spit. Take a deep breath.
Let yourself slip under.
Red and lime-green climb
down your eyelashes and leopards
the size of houses sleep. When they bite
you taste candy.