You have asked to come
for a great falling, your face
full of yielding curves
and a deep and frightening ache.
For months there have been dreams
of a bleached sweet salt
and a hot black parking lot full
of white lines and glittering clouds—
jagged—their tops’ sharp angles darkening.
You can’t talk about why you wanted
to come. You are bright and quiet
and can’t shake off the loose and soft,
the girl-women, women, curved
like too long on the edge of cruelty.
You have asked to come, so get out
now and go—forget your towel.
There is a rhythm to it: one by one,
spaced by the beat of the swooping machine,
the blue-clean chlorine. You can see
so well—this woman above you
is very rough and is freckled, still red
and not yet pink, the sad near-pink
color of bad candy. You, here,
tender and dented. You, here, nothing
but gnarled knots of pale solid animal hair.
No time is passing outside you at all.
So which is the lie? Hard or soft?
Silence or time?
Source: “Forever Overhead” from Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
RACHEL GELLMAN is a Bay Area-native poet who teaches college writing and literature in San Diego. Her poetry and reviews have been published in World Literature Today, Poetry International and The San Diego Poetry Annual, among other journals. She is a co-founder of The Verge: Live Arts & Salon Series. Follow her at rachelgellman.com.