“Strange Places I’ve Woken Up” by Michelle Cheever
Beds of grass when I was young and lamb-like, dreamy with notions of celebrating Easter.
Small enough to balance on the piping of my mother and father’s mattress, still shaking with the night’s dream of living dolls.
To bubbly laughter at a seventh grade slumber-party because Julia and I had twined into each other’s arms during sleep. We ate our pancakes on opposite sides of the room.
In a car by the harbor, hours past curfew and drenched in milk-light dawn. My soccer-star boyfriend hadn’t expected the blood– ruby dots on the backseat. Lost, but not lost all the same.
On a floral couch belonging to a party host whose name I never caught. He fed me last night’s baby quiches and told me which bus route to take back to campus.
Secretly in a boy’s bed, while a few states away a girl poured coffee for the summertime tourists. A girl who had an endless capacity to love me if only I could keep honest.
Out of place in her childhood bedroom, with all its collected wind chimes and plush green turtles; the August air between our faces soupy and sad with not-truths. She asked me to go to the guest room before her father returned from his night shift.
The boy’s gummy sheets, again. I’m sorry.
The redheaded bartender’s mattress on the floor, my cunt swollen from her knuckles. Like some bruised fruit. Overripe mango, maybe.
Strangest of all: surprised each morning that I find contentment in your bed. The fascinating comfort of your things. Your clothes in the dresser. The paper mask we bought together. The way your breath prickles the cilia on my skin. The way my spine has memorized the shape of your stomach.