As if we never touched—
that’s how we look at each other now.
As if we never met up that night
making contact with hogs’ heads
in the barn down the hill. Nothing to see
but the swarms of flies and your irises
refracting starlight. No feeling
but the terror of being touched—
the terror of wanting it
too much, of shattering. And the feel
of twin bloodblisters on our hands,
fireflies flying in lungs. Do you remember
our hands twitching toward each other?
There was still that hillbilly lilt
to our speech as we smalltalked
and bigtalked, the air
above our hungry mouths
turning to steam, our hands
two hot twigs making smoke. Then
you kneeled frog-thighed above me
and scorched me with skin, cut my breath
in half. How we brimmed with want,
even before we knew what want was.
And, as cattle grazed grass
and teeth grazed lips,
we learned what want was—
and not looking at each other.
Despy Boutri’s writing has been published in Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, American Poetry Review, The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston and serves as editor-in-chief of The West Review.