Gina Abelkop

I can't imagine desire anymore. I want
all these bulbous, terrible things; they gather
scraps of red hair or nail clippings and nest
in my ears./

I hold up two fingers like dolls. They walk around each other, menacing, and one is prettier than the other. The prettier one's face is pleasant and round, it makes people want to look at her face and kiss her. I hold up two fingers like fat rolls of seaweed and eat them both, though one is prettier than the other. Both taste cold as if they spent Ohio
nights swimming. I hold my entire hand up; there are terse, definite lines running down the length of it, pulling brambles from my lips, making sure I know that one is prettier than the other even when there is only something beautiful, a hand: short sure fingers missing the feel of girth, finally turning to face each other, bow-fingered and sloppy.

Only hands are fierce, everything else drones./

Marilyn looks glossy, doesn't she? Before
the surgery which encouraged her face to mimic
she divided her red mouth happily, kissed unsurely
at the ocean. She never tarnished, only bit nervously
into air, or whatever element was closest. Lunged
at them all. Now we want pictures to purge us, to let us
feel that ground is ground, water water, beautiful things
slid like drawers,


Thickness is not imaginary, it's pure. We put it behind
our eyelids and let it make scenes for us, let it build lives.
Thank goodness for this! I cry, and for the way men look
at me when I turn my mouth downwards, sullen.
As though I am foggy, ghost. The chance to be
a vessel./

Fantasy plays a part in the way I maneuver, slick flourishes,
filed acrylic nails tapping richly on thin glass. Here I bend,
balk, and bray, become something animal for you, curl
my talons into knots. Hunched inwards stealthily, I wait
like this for years, grow briny, fins, take to water—
in the end not bound by air, only breathing wetness, smelling salt./

One moment was so final, so complete: legs lifted,
propelling the body forward. My pale, simpering summer body
bent in arcs, unforgivable, forgetting to take over./

It came for me, torridly and precisely, sitting
like sparrow on tree tops, watching. I peel away
patches of skin in anticipation, become raw
and effervescent. It watches and gets turned
on, gives me the eye. Winks and reaches
for some nasty place. I give it my best show,
my little hands. My pink, rare skin./

Earnest bulbs of spit hang from each corner
of my mouth; I ask, Do they look like sisters? Bitter
things whistle like teeth, bone exposed./



"Desire Not Well Tended" is the second part of a five part novella-in-verse. The novella attempts to dissect and explode notions about desire while exploring the ways that trauma can complicate it.