Behind the roadhouse
her lips drag over flannel
mouth skimming a seam, shoulder to collar
until he pushes too hard, drives
her hip into the clapboard siding
and she gasps, sucking down
the cig smoke trapped
in his worn-soft shirt.
She doesn't smoke but it tastes better
than the blood in her mouth
the ulcers she's chewed
inside her lips, waiting for her husband
to come home, wondering what—
if she'd recognize him this time
or if he'd be a perfect stranger.
This other one, he bumps his forehead to hers
a quick forced tilt so he can see
her eyes, and he huffs, "You okay?"
still fucking but concern edging
into lust-hazed eyes, eyes that earlier
across the pool table
had flickered with something—
she'd thought she recognized.
She nods, focuses on the wet oval
on his shirt. "More,"
she whispers, and he kisses her through
his grin and the sweet whiskey still slicking
his tongue. She knows as he rocks her
steady pressure against splintered planks
his breath and hers fogging the dark
she knows he is not
her perfect stranger.
But he numbs the gnawing ache
that grows every time her husband goes
in search of a stronger body
a vessel that won't creak under the demands
of his soul, such weighty cargo,
and, stranger still,
tonight she finds that going numb
She notes how this one fits inside her
fits so familiar inside his skin
not like her husband: stretching bone
and gristle beyond their limits
and not like her: clamping down on each
homesick wish, heart furling tight around
new hurts and leaving great, echoing
chambers of herself behind.
When he groans against her shoulder,
filling the rubber, he remains
relieved but not expended
softening yet undiminished.
She wants to learn this trick.
She watches him pull out, step back,
shed his latex skin without concern.
After he tucks in his shirt, he offers
her another beer "or maybe a ride home?"
She shakes her head, shifts
her weight, feeling off-balance in her
chest not her legs.
Something is unfurling.
"Busy day tomorrow," she decides. "Leaving town."
His eyes flicker like luck. He grins again.
"Wasn't that bad, was it?"
"Baby," she says, grinning back,
"it changed my life."