My Lover Wants To Know Where I Am

by Faylita Hicks

If I am in Albuquerque, it is to borrow
time as a reclaimed silhouette of womxn

singing in my lover’s entryway—a cloud,
heavy—over the headboards. Look I am here

now. An ache gyrating through the artist’s studio
in Houston, jerking on a bear-backed rug, my fat

breasts in my lover’s hands like wet bowls of feathers.
What smokes more than this? I ask while in Denver,

my hips swung around the broken faucet
of my lover’s neck, cradling the strange

howls crawling out of us. My fingers,
little spiders climbing out from tight drains,

ask: Is it memory, the terror of touch? I myself,
a sliding scale of do not or but softly, went back—

to Baltimore—with its cocoa butter & warm showers
& flexed heels—looking for an answer. I went back

to El Paso—for its back seats & seasoned bone marrow
& unprotected borders. I went back—to Columbus—

for its butter & cream & I never left Los Angeles,
though I said I would. I went back to Chicago, though I said I wouldn’t,

looking for my panties & my moisturizer & my last layer of skin.
I never left Killeen—with its pump & grunt—though I said I would

& I know this is a problem but the truth is—sometimes I need the discipline.
My lover wants to know where I keep going when I close my eyes. I say

I am in Portland—pray for me. I am in Vegas—do not call.
I am in New York. Please—come get me.

Sorry. I Can’t Come Into Work Today.

Lying in my bed beneath the covers, the hours turn
into pools of years—sans distinction.

If I stay here long enough, still enough,
I can hear the cloud of my own ocean

aching to fill my crowded nook.
The waves of my pulse

easing its way up the sand of my legs,
up the sand of my hands,

into the spring of my neck.
There is still so much of me

I don’t understand. A course
of dilated events, scanned & digitized,

on the back of my eyelids: How did I get here?
How many moons have sifted over me since?

I can only conclude that I am
a room of actual happenings.

I am what little was left
after the fire.

Again, this is no metaphor.
I was a wife & then widowed

& then a window left ajar.
A city—full of evidence.

Every breath—a citizen
I’ve let down.

Once.
Too often.

Faylita Hicks (she/her/they) is the author of HoodWitch (Acre Books, 2019), editor-in-chief of Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, an organizer with social justice nonprofit Mano Amiga, and a finalist for the 2018 PEN America Writing for Justice Fellowship and the 2019 Palette Poetry Spotlight Award. Hicks has been awarded fellowships and residencies from Lambda Literary and Jack Jones Literary Arts. Their work has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart and is published or forthcoming in POETRY Magazine, Longreads, Adroit, Barrelhouse, Linden Avenue, Foglifter, Sundog Lit, The Rumpus, The Cincinnati Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Slate, HuffPost, The Texas Observer, Color Bloq, and others.