Home » Favorite Human Beings » Fall is Coming: Current Favorite Poems

Fall is Coming: Current Favorite Poems

On the day of your leave-taking

by Maggie Nelson

On the day of your leave-taking

I wouldn’t want to see you anyway

I want to be alone with my vagrant ugliness

Want the bridge suddenly to double its span

so the only parameter becomes the vanishing

of my already thin-soled shoes

On a Friday night, one girl hangs from a trapeze by her shins

You think it looks scary but having lived among them

I know there’s always a safety (in this case, the toes)

Another girl enjoys bars with themes

Another is painting bunnies in Kentucky

I am taking my welts to the tub

hoping the porcelain is free of blood and hair

The blood and hair I left there, streaking

the pale pink soap melting into the brick wall

which grows black and green with companions

People continue to grind the veiny fat into the asphalt

with their feet, it’s only nine degrees, my river rocks

now bearded with ice. So the fat freezes and a spoon

wedged into the cement glistens, I keep wanting

to pick up every hard and bright object I find

and put it in a Mason jar, then add blue pigment

and shake. Gnarled hand of green glass, leftover

confetti, petrified pieces of pizza that appear

near the trio of homeless men who watch a shaky TV

hooked into a generator in a parking lot, it’s where

I get my news these days and why not, they always

know the score, the five-day weather report. I can see you

boarding your jet plane, see you with your hat on crooked

as if you recently tumbled onto the planet out of the carapace

of a rumpled goddess. I hear the gulf is a little bellicose

but beyond that, livable, despite the depressing stats

from that part of the world, and you know I’ll be here, perched

into blotchy corners, not knowing what life

could possibly mean without its soundtrack

so I can hum along to its pain, as if its humdrum

or shared nature could possibly dim its particular

luster. But it’s the cold that makes my mascara pool up

around my eyes and gives a shock to my quads

as they push forward, the only idiot crossing the bridge

at sunset, but you have to march across the span

while you can, before winter’s sweet cocoon

gets punctured and happiness presents itself

as an option, and I have to accept the possibility

of another body in my bed. I keep dreaming it’s

someone else that’s paralyzed, a childhood friend

I’ve fallen out of touch with, I keep dreaming

we’re fucking but somehow never alone, sometimes

I think it would be so hot to fuck you with another

and other times I know I’m just making the best

of a bad situation. Have I mentioned I’m watching

a man softly cry as he searches for a lost pill

under the pillows of a sage-colored couch, he has

a cough that comes from the Underworld, one lens

of his glasses dramatically cracked. I want

to hold him, the way I want to hold anyone

who seems contagious. Maybe we could

keep each other warm. And you emptied yourself

twice into my throat and I remain utterly starved

for more, the smell of one sex intimating the smell of another

but who am I kidding, really, on this January day

that has dwindled into the single digits, in which

we have to pin the drapes shut with safety pins

and stuff towels into the honeycombed walls

I just want to be called out as the greedy whore that I am

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