Tina Chang
                                                                             Audio Provided by From the Fishouse

What I Was Acquainted With Was Not Mine

But I took to it anyway.
He ruined it with whiskey and scissors.
We were in the pitch black and I reached
for him, the ribcage leading up.

I’m the one who applauded when sound
was needed. There were people in the back room
whose presence fit into a keyhole, the image
of two people folding into each other,

the world’s music thumping deeper
and more vital when the room was occupied,
when he was even and sober, back talk
between his lips and mine.

Inside the lick of me, somewhere between
the unsure and the smack, two birds
were ransomed in my throat.

Late at night, I welcomed him, offered him
the hem of my skirt as if to say, pull here.
He crushed me as he drank Grey Goose
from the bottle, a mouth about to speak.

There are rips and tears. I can hear it
as a kind of calling. Mid-evening
it can be called a fever. Mid-sentence,
it can be called a taste for danger.

Open mouthed, wanting, he unlaces her
from her dress, the force of his hands
that releases her from what binds.
As he steadies her, studies her, she is made
consistent. A bird threads in and out of darkness.
The fragile stitch of an amateur’s hand.