You’re dead today, and I want to write something insightful about toadstool shadows in the park, something about ants trudging in line, something tying the domain of the earthbound and gleaming to you, but all I can think of is the month you spent battering my will until I gave in and let you push inside me where I didn’t want you to—“outgoing mail only,” I’d said, because I loathe shit and the idea of that part of me stretching open, pain in a place where pain belongs but not that kind, how the wrong pain in a place you expect to hurt can be worse than a surprise ache where you thought there was none—and when I said I wouldn’t do that again, after I shrieked and crushed my eyelids together and almost puked, you still begged until weeks later, when, nine Malibu and Diet Cokes in, I said, “If you’re going to do it, now’s the time, I can’t feel much,” and so you did, and it hurt more than rum told me it would, but you kept thrusting, snot and tears and snot down my face and my neck until you came inside a shuddering body that learned volumes about you in that moment, and it feels, today, like I should be able to spin a trenchant metaphor re: goose shit in this park, but I keep remembering how later, after we’d broken up, you got drunk in bars across from the English building and breathed to our grad classmates one by one, B. likes anal. That’s what does it for her, and the thing here is I wouldn’t have minded had that been true, wouldn’t care if you’d broadcast my basest cravings as sport; what I hated (the wrong type of pain rocked up in your highball glass) was watching you try to humiliate me—and it worked, because how do you defend yourself in such a case without degrading someone’s else desire, without seeming to protest too much?—and goddammit, I ache to recover whatever kernel of love you must’ve cradled for me the afternoon you opened a circular and pointed out the 10k bands that would shine best on my ring finger; I can’t recall anything kind, but there must’ve been tacos and calla lilies and jazz clubs that compelled me to stay, made me arch my back every time you requested it, built me a wish you’d shovel bits of yourself into this gaping inside me—the void that keeps me clinging to those nights of vomiting merlot in a red rayon slip dress on the shoulder of Loop 12 as if they meant anything, and now, sprawled like I’m nine Solo cups in though I’m 3:00 PM sober, bawling in the warm dirt of these woods, I don’t care you’re dead because if you’d seen me for even a second, you’d have realized the only thing you needed to know:
My kink is filling
the wet, wormy hole of my
own limitless shame.
B. Tyler Lee is the author of With Our Lungs in Our Hands (Redbird Chapbooks, 2016) and her essay “A large volume of small nonsenses” won the 2020 Talking Writing Contest. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in 32 Poems, Crab Orchard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Blue Mesa Review, The Hunger, Qwerty Literary Journal, Cheat River Review, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. She teaches in the Midwest. Find her at BTylerLee.com or on Twitter @BTylerLee7.