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  • Dear Eros, and: Sphinx, and: Dearest Eros
  • Traci Brimhall (bio)

Dear Eros

I have found you where I shouldn’t—in the wrong bodies,at the wrong time, and once on a subway platformwith my feet stuck to a pool of dried soda taking gumfrom a near-stranger’s mouth. That night you were spearmintand the 6 train. I have been woken by you, put to bed by you.Had you serve me coffee in my favorite mug with milkand just enough sweetness. An easy gift. A debt of pleasure.My therapist said: Sometimes it’s better to be understood than it isto be loved. I believed her because I am better at understandingthan I am at feeling. I have said I love you to men whose namesI can’t remember now. And who’s to say it wasn’t true?Who’s to say I couldn’t have tried forever with any of them?Couldn’t have tried learning to sail and opened a sanctuaryfor elephants, or perfected the tambourine and followed the bandon their bluegrass tour? I don’t know why anyone stays in their marriage,my therapist said. Love is illogical. A man I loved once raped me.I did not leave him. At least not then. But the next time I loved,I chose someone kinder. I thought it would make a difference.I stopped looking people in the eyes when talking to them.I kept wanting to kiss them, the intimacy of language turninginto metaphor and urge. Everyone. I wanted to kiss the cashierhandling my poblanos with such gentleness and curiosity.To kiss the person next to me on the bus with bad tastein music and vanilla and bergamot in his cologne. Kissthe woman holding the door, saying: Have a good day.Her smile so goddamn bright and real and meant for me.You’re trapped, my therapist tells me. Only you can break this cycle.But I want exactly this kind of trouble. I have sweat betweenmy breasts that needs licking. I have an iamb in my chest that keepsskipping. I have stockings on my thighs. Oh, I’ve got stockingson my thighs that need ripping. I read my way through all [End Page 52] the paperback romances and need a more adequate fiction.I need my hair pulled, mean and gentle. I dressed you up inevery excuse and black gloves past the elbow. You openthe silk in me with zippers and buttons sewed on with breakablethread. I have pulled tinsel from your hair and called it mistletoe,led you into the woods wearing cheap underwear and handed youthe switchblade from my boot. I worshiped the myth I made of you,but I’m off my knees now. I want your hands to become languageand make me offer you one thigh at a time. Let it sting loudand sweetly. Let bruise be proof. Let the smell of your hands. [End Page 53]


The last time I left your house I saw a mothon the black skin of a puddle, ruining herselfon the moon’s reflection. Dear sphinx hawkmoth

I mistook for a hummingbird among the grapes.Darling metaphor at my feet. Damn fool.The water in me reached out for itself,

which is the way of all good mirrors. It wantedits nest of stone. An hour before we’d scratchedyour ceiling into snow, dusted the blanket fort

where we held each other and did the quiet workof intimacy and then the siren work of pleasureas the sheets fell down around us. I felt the dark

coin of blood wish itself onto white cotton.I hadn’t known the meaning of missing,though lost was always clear. I gave your ghost

ten minutes to ache in me. It took my throat. I tookthe wings from the moth. They were the soft, dishonestbrown of my eyes. They wanted to belong to me.

You must remember, though you weren’t there.It was the night you said sloth was not a viceof laziness but the...


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