Ruth Madievsky is originally from Moldova and currently lives and writes in Los Angeles. She was a 2014 finalist in The Paris-American’s Reading Series Contest, judged by Marie Howe, and in Tupelo Quarterly’s TQ5 Poetry Contest, judged by Amaud Jamaul Johnson. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in ZYZZYVA, Harpur Palate, RHINO, and elsewhere. She’s a chapbook reader for Gold Line Press, a doctoral student at The University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, and a research assistant at an HIV clinic specializing in maternal care in Downtown Los Angeles.
Tonight my name is the pearl onion
I place in your mouth,
the sound a pelvis makes
when it opens like a window.
Tonight the fly beating its head
against the ceiling light is drunk
from the wine
we opened and forgot about.
You turn me over
like a poker card,
you turn me over
like the list of side effects
I explained this morning
to the woman
dying of colon cancer.
I’m touching all twenty-seven
bones in your hand,
trying to hang a sock
over the door
of what I can’t stop thinking—
that it’s cold inside the body,
even inside a burning body,
and all that we love
becomes the atoms
of something else.
Tonight I’m looking at a man
but seeing a handprint on a window.
Something inside me
scattering like deer.
I want my name to amount to more
than a bone passed between two dogs. I don’t
want catheters or shrink wrap or any more ceremonies
of fists. I want each rib in my body
to hold the shadow
of a lion. I don’t want strychnine. I don’t want
to be the peel on the orange. I want things
to get a little sloppy.
Let’s make Ouija into a drinking game,
play strip Trust Fall. Let’s not be knockout
pills. I’d like to pass a cherry seed
back and forth with our tongues
but I don’t want the anxiety attack after. I’ll keep
the three orgasms
during. I’ll keep the night
we were thunder gods, the night I learned
the moon has no light of its own,
I’ll keep unbuttoning my shirt
one button too many, I’ll keep the feeling
of being on two planets at once
but mostly on the one where you are
melting butter in a pan, where popcorn
is popping and there is rose wine on the table,
which is the same planet on which, in sixth grade,
Marcus told me he prefers shoe shopping
to football, and I told him,
That’s exactly why everyone assumes you’re gay.
I don’t want the electrons that left his face
and landed in my backpack. I don’t want meanness
to bobsled my brain. When I open, I want to be
the umbrella, not the pocketknife.