He came in late, the musk of the journey
on his collarbone,
and unburdened himself on the doorstep.
He told me about the Florida fields
filled with palm-sized dragonflies.
From the car they looked like birds,
beating in the heat.
A mirage, perhaps, a delirium.
Sweet stranger to reacquaint myself with.
I purr. I consume.
It was May, cool sanded evenings
and dresses picked up by the wind,
drapes and fabrics and permissions
fed into the opening of summer.
Clumsy tinkerings, the midnight cicadas
asking when we expect to go to bed.
I was there
when the pale invitation to dance tasted
like macaroons and hurricanes,
when his skin smelled like climbing vines.
I was there when he stood on the dock,
a slice of pineapple speared
on his knife,
when he drew the stringed pulp
from his lips and threw it in the water
to sweeten the Gulf.
There are many things to give up on:
intimacy, art, an overripe pineapple.
My mouth wanted to hold flesh with flesh
and let it permeate me,
amber and stilling, sweet blood rising
like grass after the rain comes.
My hunger, an unanswerable question
as big as the sky.
The water stippled. For a moment, it was raining.
I started to gather the books.
Then, the braided bodies
nipping the surface,
feeding flesh into their mouths,
utter faith in the ocean’s ability to nourish.
M.J. Arlett was born in the UK, spent several years in Spain, and now lives in Miami. She has an MFA from Florida International University and will begin her PhD at the University of North Texas in the fall. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Boiler, Lunch Ticket, Mud Season Review, Poet Lore, Rust + Moth, Tinderbox Poetry and elsewhere.