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January, Rescued by Rafa’s Thighs

Tomorrow he’ll be ordinary again
but today I watch his familiar charge,
the ritual pulls and tugs. All month
a kind of gloom—sea turtles strangled
in fishing nets, their bodies like temples
in the sand. I want to get close, examine
their shells for divination texts. For a billion
years we were told a tortoise held four elephants
on its back and the elephants held the world.
It’s hard not to think: dead turtle, dead world.

I tell my husband it happened a hundred years
ago. Nothing happened. We are still jealous
about each other’s bodies. It was January
when I drank tequila shots with Rafael Nadal.
That’s the sound a name makes as it drops.
A party. Two slices of lime plucked
out of his sweet mouth. Two slices
plucked out of mine. I’ll be telling that story
till I’m dead. Throb. Oh, suprasternal notch.
I’m telling this to the poem because poems
listen. Shush love, remember what happened
after he left the party, sweet boy, to wake up early,
sweet machine. Someone meant to watch
over you, friend, dragged you to a room so quick,
this is not happening cannot be happening,
and after stumbling out and smoothing down
your dress, after it ends, you bury it
so quick. A poem is always
making death about itself.

It’s why we loved the gladiators,
Scheherazade with her nightly tales,
the sturdiness of survival. Sweet turtle thighs,
dredge us from the wreck, these years of steady
losing. Remind us we are wild bodies made
of sweat. We tell what we can, the rest we leave
to bruised morning, ocean swell, this landscape
made together. Wind-stung dune, house of clay,
all the smallness we try to conquer. We suffer
the fights. Hooves-first, we mark the days.