OPEN HEART SURGERY
You drop into my life
like a dream of death.
Your lips are blue, and your teeth are cracked.
You puff a cigarette.
Your fingertips glow fiery red.
We go to a bar called The Bar.
You slip away from me and I stare
across the room at ghostlike reflections of myself.
You push past them heading for the exit.
I run after you.
On the street, homeless people
shout political slogans
and groups of the unemployed
try to sell their old clothes.
You dance past them —
your camera flashing at neon signs.
The glare of a streetlamp hits your blond head.
You pause underneath to light a cocktail joint
spreading your legs wide to support
the weight of the black plastic lighter you hold in your hands.
I sneak up behind you and nudge your shoulder.
You crack a joke. I’m the punch line.
We climb flights and cross landings
to reach your bed.
You fall facedown on the duvet.
I flip you over and peel back layers of clothing.
Your chest is a road map of scars —
red routes leading to your heart.
I place my hands on top of this cloverleaf.
You slip between my fingers.
From Geer Austin’s debut poetry collection, Cloverleaf (Poets Wear Prada: January 28, 2014)