the shape of you
today, i almost miss the shape of you
fleshed out doughy against my pilling
sheets. did you
kiss anyone last night,
did you manage to
stand up straight—
were your hands strong
stars stitched into your sweater.
you were the universe, absolute
truth. your hands called me
beautiful in a bedroom with
two beds, where downstairs a dog barked
and you breathed.
you seemed like a painting, a token
of that stolid, ancient beauty.
i cannot see for the white hallways thinned
like timid ivy, their
bubbling teardrop paint and
domino doors marked
with arrogant impatience.
a boy, but i never see
his face from the third story
bathroom window, tipping
on my toes through the
thin pane, frown blocked by a
branch, if not one, then another —
the only tree
in Queens and he has found it on the street where
men in a dark red Ford, their faces wrinkled gray like cigarette ash, suck
and bite and kiss at me from the half-rolled window, turn the corner, always
turning, always slowing, never stopping, so i hope. sometimes when i
ride the 7 it pushes purple between buildings and graffiti’s
blocked just beneath twenty-story rooftops and wondering at the height, i
sit in my car watching other cars jolt, revolt, contained,
and men, their faces folded like tired laundry, suck
their teeth as they settle into the harsh flickered light
and cling to the metal bars in a chain gang of boxes
as though prison was just like this.
Caitlin Wolper is a junior at Penn State majoring in English and earning her M.A. in Creative Writing. She has won the Beautiful Ruins fiction contest and the Mathew Mihelcic Poetry Award, among other honors.