by Anne Bromley
Your brown shoulders cradle
two-by-fours, and you sleep
in the skeleton of a house,
not for shelter, but to be alone.
The midnight air hangs warm and weightless.
Beneath the half-built roof
the moon slides
along the bones of the walls.
You dream of yellow beams and gray nails softening –
arms reach, fingers mingle.
You watch them circle dance,
listen to their forest songs
of rough trunks and confident limbs.
In the morning the silent frame stares
as you bring out your hammer and level,
dismissing the dream even as the wood groans.
The sun paints it white and your hair.
In this fleshy café meeting Frenchmen,
il faut qu’on s’embrasse des deux cotes:
my lips brush their pine-scented cheeks –
Jean-Paul, Jean-François, Jean-Charles.
They surround me at the table; close by them,
their girlfriends’ tight dresses.
Glasses of anisette before bowls of crayfish
black eyes floating in a garlic soup
we rip open the tails
suck the claws.
We heap red shells on the plate
crawl away to go dancing.
At the bar ice melts under whiskey,
fingers snap; the more I drink,
the better I translate these shouts of
cousina, cousina, from men
who will never know after this dance.
It is something else that kisses
my bare brown shoulder.