The Winter Poetry Issue: Sarah Jean Alexander

All of the people I know who have drowned

In the middle of my bath I realize

I don't remember how to take one

Impatiently, I rest my book on the lid of the toilet

and take my tea bag out of the mug

I watch the brown English breakfast

drip into the blue transparent water

covering my belly as I lift the tea bag

to my chest and shake it

forcing more amber colored drops

onto my nipples, spreading thin over them

catching slightly over stray hairs

before leaking into the bath water

I lower the bag into the tub

and pour the remaining tea from the mug into the blue

I put my chin down and swallow the new

I can’t remember where my father’s father is buried

but I know my mother’s was lost in the ocean

and is most likely still there in some form

inside of the Yellow Sea

For now, all of the people I know

who have drowned

are men and younger men

When I got out of the bath

you held my head in the hotel room

as we embraced and I thought oh god

this is an intimate moment

and then I closed my eyes

and allowed myself to feel it

A calming note about your life today

is that the sunset looks like

a peach that caught fire

and is speeding away from you

so that you don’t have to burn

Cognizance

You press your finger

into the part

where my belly fat

meets the top of my legs

when I sit down

and the crease

absorbs you completely

I suddenly become

hyperaware

that a person can only

suck in their stomach

I take a deep breath

as you tell me

nothing eventful happened

at work today

You take a deeper breath

as I tell you I hate the sea

and everything contained in it

because I am terrified of its darkness

and the depth of it

You bring a raspberry pastry to your lips

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and I think

Is there ever going to be

a more delicious bite

When one says surrender

I stepped over a single feather on a sidewalk square

It was barely broken, clean and straight

I thought hope that bird is ok

You took a shower directly after me

and saw strands of my hair lining the tub drain

But you did not say

a small prayer for me

That would be insane

I’m fine, you idiot I say to myself

I never especially wanted to put a man on a leash

until you came home from work one day

with a piece of twine wrapped three times around your neck

It was previously used to hold wash rags together

You began to untie the knot

I told you to keep it on and I led you to bed

When you went down on me

I wrapped the twine tightly around my fist

until there was no more give

pulling you so close to my skin and bone

that there wasn’t any possibility for you to breathe

Anyway I don’t care about what’s in

my mouth, or yours

I don’t even think about it

I only care about smiling

and worrying about whether or not

I am doing too much of it

Sarah Jean Alexander wrote Wildlives (Big Lucks Books, 2015) and LOUD IDIOTS (Second Books, 2016). She is the poetry editor of Shabby Doll House and tweets @sarahjeanalex.