on the borderline / credit: de
The word a color of flesh— a tongue,
Rough skin, the inside of your cheek.
We’ve all dreamed in those shades
Of red and pain. Wake up – you were
Calling out in your sleep. The soft tissue
Around the cherry pit. A slick of clear
Pink. The Fingers we lick. Did we know
That pain had a name? Lips, ochre, and pale
Burning. We love but the love is rusting.
Cape Ann, Summer
He’d just sat up to watch the waves when he noticed the family arriving on the beach, not twenty feet away. A mother and father with their young son, who was just learning to walk, toddled between both of them, tentative, laughing. The man watched the mother, softly smiling, their soft voices carried a little on the breeze. He couldn’t make out the words, only the tone of happiness, the feeling of a good memory being made. How sweet it all looked, and how reasonably she took to motherhood. He could feel the heat of the sun on his back, his cheeks were turning pink in the broad afternoon light. His eyes landed on their little bag of beach toys, and he admired the soundness of the scene. He lay back down beside her, considering them, considering his own mistake.
She remembered the day had felt endless and now night was coming, too. Where would they stay? They knew nothing about Trapani. This was in 2007 and they’d taken a bus there on their honeymoon to Calampiso. They’d kept walking the streets and wondering if they’d find some place to spend the night. Then, late that evening they checked into a place. It was nearly 1 AM when she heard the lock on their door turn. She froze, then whispered to him – was someone at the door? He got and turned on the light. She was terrified. She remembers waiting for her life to change. What was going to happen to them? But whatever had been there left. The next day when she asked him about what they’d heard he didn’t remember anything. The way he looked at her, like she made it all up.
About Tasha Cotter
Tasha Cotter’s third collection of poetry Astonishments will be released in 2020 with FutureCycle Press. Her collaboratively written novel Us, in Pieces was released in 2019. You can find her online at tashacotter.com or on twitter @TashCotter.