MY LOUISIANA LOVE by Anne Barngrover

My Louisiana Love

Your gulf-town tonight is a bedpan sloshing with rain—
So I’ll begin by confessing, I miss you,

and I’ll sympathize from the get-go, down to the barnacles
on my heart, that you will trudge among the oil-fish
gumbo, dragging thoughts of me like a rosary

while I sit at a sushi bar next to an aquarium,
getting drunk on white wine and hollering,
“Is that a slug? Is that a slug?”
at the venerable eel, who pokes his mush-head
around some coral, and watches as his pals

get plucked into pieces, coated in low sodium soy,
and tongued by a fat businessman,
who dares to point at me and jeer, “California roll!”

and how I yearn to invent a Punch-o-Gram,
for a burly redneck to arrive in a leprechaun suit
with balloons that spell out, “Get Slugged,” in fine pink cursive.

But, instead, tonight, I’ll just be thinking of
three in the morning, the time we rattled the gates
of my apartment pool, stripped and hurdled ourselves
into water cold as pimpled turnip skins, and right then

I regretted not rousing myself from dreams
whenever it was raining, just to say— “Hey,”
so you could stir and reply, “Just givin’ a shout-out?”

and I confess that, of all things, I miss you turning off the bedside
lamp, lying on your back and pulling it down to you,
and how, before you’d make it click, I would soak you up
like steeping a teabag in tea, a brown where the lines
hazed on your skin, and I felt like imploding with desire,

so turn it off, for God’s sake turn it off,
because I know every scar on your body, and I still want
to hush them, to nibble your heart out
of its withering, make it gut-punch and re-love, press it
to my throat, echoing like a vampiric sea shell.

So, tonight, how is it that I can still be hurting,
when in the gulf where you sleep alone,
there are a thousand mollusks, and a thousand jellyfish, too,
all with broken hearts? And while Bill Nye pleads
on NPR, tar balls glop like sugar baby candy and the Cajun
Catholic in you prays to Our Lady of Prompt Succor—

I must confess, it all just makes me think of watching
safari animals that time in Disney World,
when a little boy tugged on my sleeve and said,
“Did the rhino used to be an elephant?”
and I wondered, you know, because we’re all missing
something. His face was the lonely “O”
of a valentine. His hand wouldn’t budge from my arm.
He asked me without asking, and still I don’t
have the answer:  Knowing person, explain this world to me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anne Barngrover is a writer, student and teacher from Ohio now living in Tallahassee, Florida. She has previously had work published in FreightTrain, Magazine Americana and Full of Crow.

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