Elenia Graf

your brown leather boots

(that i know you own

because i saw them in a picture)

have been on my mind for days

scuffed leather stuffed with denim

yellow laces double tied

a half inch block heel

i imagine them now

on the grimy floor of a northern rail train

skin inside skin

i haven’t met you yet

but i want to trace the marked leather

with my fingertips

each imprint scratch dent

a testament to the streets they’ve crossed


girls like us walk with calculated steps

(i want to watch you walk

towards me)

each heavy lift of the leg

each time the worn-off tread

hits the ground

means do not mistake me for anything

other than what you think i am

(but you already know that)

i imagine you

in your brown leather boots

looking out the carriage window

are you even wearing them


are they tapping

(i hope they are)

like my black leather boots

on the platform?

something quiet

i swallow my SSRI breakfast

text you good morning

hesitate to open the blinds

so as not to disturb the two

mugs idling on my windowsill.

let the paint stain. let spilled tea

galaxies bruise the white wood.

this porcelain memory

must remain untouched.

the platform is hazy with cold

air leaving cold bodies

a bloodless thing journeying

to somewhere warm and living

comes back out a nebula.

i take a mental note to buy

more mugs. i unlock my phone

and don’t type anything.

st peter’s square exhales.

i hug my bag to my chest

think about train tracks and

how i don’t want to die anymore.

the man on the tram scratching

at invisible spiders in his eyes

drops the clear plastic baggy

and i hear porcelain shatter.

i’m glad i’m not the only one

who’s keeping something quiet.

documentary on breadmaking

i saw another movie and we weren’t in it

your buzz cut my finger tips

the screenplay didn’t account for

us building a room

full of birds

up in your attic

i feel wing feathers flitting in my belly

and i don’t think they could catch that on camera

the wonder i house

the humming of my mortal parts

bird flutter beat stop motion:

pick me up in your car light our roll ups

hand in back pocket confessions my

scorpio venus your hands shaking but

never on my throat we are not in the

cinema we spit on them i shave your

head you are all there ever is in mine

i don’t want to be on television

i want to bake bread with you.

sticky dough finger prints on your cheeks

from when i stop the tiresome kneading

to hold your face in the fluorescence

just us and our shadows under kitchen light

i never want to give you crumbs

i want to give you an entire loaf

warm bread on the counter

every day

we bite through the crust

and laugh with our mouths full

recognition of the self and

recognition of an/other

we in this gay club lights ablood lights ablued

romantic comedy special where you have just

almost thrown up from red stripe and weed yet

you giggle for 10 minutes when i call you cute

which means to say i see the undressed button of

your button down shirt i see the unfazed way you

lean back and rest your arm just so which means

to say woman how could i ever want anything but

this this this this this making unstrange this

scraping the suicidal shame from under my

fingernails before i touch you this shifting this

waxing this waxing lyrical isn’t it making the up

to 60 percent of water in your body boil isn’t it

making the skin melt off your musclefleshbone

drop by drop only for you to suddenly revel in the

curl of me licking your tongue to britney because i

don’t know who could witness our drinking each

other and call it poison are they not watching me

mend am i not mending are these stage lights not

chasing each other to teach me how to fluoresce

glow a split second when we kiss am i not readying

myself to witness something yet unknown like you

to me and me to you and me to me and you to you


the morning i was cut from my mother’s belly,

they unwrapped the noose that fed me

three times

before i could scream.

i think children hold fear

in different parts of their body.

my hand used to hold hers like any daughter’s ought to

and when i learned that i was bad,

i held that, too.

when i grew taller than her, i began shrinking.

after each day spent as her biggest regret,

i was needed to massage her feet in front of the tv.

i imagined a stranger’s hands around her callouses

kneading the ball just under the big toe

of her left foot,

her right foot.

i pushed my spine into the back of the sofa

and when the show was over, i washed my hands.

i think children hold fear in the parts of their body

that remain small. the finger bones stretch

and the femurs thicken. but a young bundle of flesh

is still pulsating inside of me.

a tumour the size of a fist

against the stucco of my childhood bedroom.


i won’t cut the sick out of me. i’ll coax it out delicately.

once, a doctor cradled an infant covered in blood

while unbinding its rope of nurture.

let me repeat what took place that morning

with my own two hands.

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