Madeira Miller: Four Poems

Drunk Girls in the Bathroom

We showed each other our tits
for some reason, and she lit up
like the Fourth of July and told
me that mine sit real pretty. She
had a tattoo of a firefly on her
sternum and I’ve never seen
something more elegant, more
blurry, with the walls spinning
around me. I met a girl here
last week who was on a first
date and we squealed because
it was going well. “I’m definitely
taking him home tonight, but
he doesn’t know that yet.”
That’s the beautiful thing about
women, is that we orchestrate
all of this. How preposterous
and unexpected for us to fall
into bed together, I mean I
really didn’t see this coming,
and yet I wore a matching set
and the landscape beneath my
loveliest sundress is silky smooth,
soft and achingly alive, burning
for your touch, and I had this
marked in my calendar a week
ago. She took him home that
night and I’ll never hear the
delicious details but I hope it
was divine. I hope he kissed
her firefly. I can’t recall what
I discussed with the bartender
in the next stall over, but I
remember that she was just
gorgeous. Everyone’s gorgeous
in the women’s restroom at
the local dive bar when last call
is fast approaching. Everyone is
a goddess under the fluorescent
lighting and we tell each other
as much. Women are just like
that, you know. Fire and rage
and turmoil and chaos, comments
like sharpened arrows or battle
axes, a psychological Cold War
going on with our mothers and
we break each other’s hearts
worse than any boy ever could,
but when we’re drunk in a
public restroom, I do believe
that’s the real us. That, I feel,
is womanhood, summed up,
with slurred words and feverish
cheeks. “I love your skirt.”

Lost Lamb

I tried to run from God
but I found myself trapped
in the bloated belly
of discomfort the size of a whale,
which kept me up at night
writhing and squirming in the arc
of an ontological itch
like lice or the wings of locusts.
The water in my canteen
was coppery-hot and salty.
I was enshrouded and embalmed
in an impenetrable darkness
that stretched beyond the bounds
of anything I had known.
The bushes outside
my apartment caught fire
and a thunderous voice
called out to me by name,
but I kept running.
I tried to hide from God
on the sun-soaked beaches
in the city where I was born,
but He parted the sea
before me. In that moment,
the Gulf of Mexico
split in two. I cast my eyes
from the horrifying sight
of this and ran from the coast.
I booked a cheap flight
and during my layover,
there appeared before me
a grotesque, six-winged
creature: an amalgamation
of blinking eyes and limbs
like fiery pillars, robed
in clouds and rainbows.
“Do not be afraid.”
I was stricken with the fear
of God in my heart
and I ran from the airport
into the streets and tore
my clothes. I cut my hair
and shrieked, inconsolable.
Flashing city lights bled onto
the pavement like stained
glass windows projecting vibrant
color onto carpet. The city
is not my home. The prodigal
daughter yearned to go home.
My legs grew tired of running
and my eyes tired of gazing
upon worthless things.
I spent forty days and nights
starving myself of the knowledge
that the sky above me is not
empty. That there’s good
enough reason to lay down
my pride and my fishing gear.
That a shepherd awaits me
and He knows me by name
and the number of hairs
on my head. That He’s been
calling out for me, awaiting
my return with open arms.

Puke and Rally

It’s Thursday night again
and I’m throwing up real hard,
trying to talk myself out of loving
you, or writing you a letter.
I recall that you held my hair
back for me once. I fell to my
knees, in a stance of submission,
to puke or to pray or something
considerably less holy, and then
I succumbed to the sickness.
I still succumb to you, in sickness
and in health. In your roommate’s
bathroom or on the side of a
building. At work sometimes.
I have fond memories of your
fingers down my throat and your
hands on the softest landscape
of my skin. Devouring me.
You taught me how to puke
and rally and I taught you the
dangers of caring a little too
much. I learned a few lessons
with my head in a toilet bowl
about overindulgence. I could
not get enough of you. I was
wearing your flannel. Every
confession of emotional
vulnerability I’ve ever made
has felt like vomiting into
your hands. I’m trying not to
make myself ill, remembering
your lips on mine. I’m learning
self-control; I’m learning how
to push those feelings down –
way down – because nothing
tastes good coming back up.

Traffic Jam

I stood at a busy intersection
with my eyes closed and my fingers
plugging my ears and I waited
for you amongst the traffic,
and it was much like the time
that I flashed my tits
on the Mega Screen in Times Square
on New Year’s Eve,
and it reminded me of the time
I took a deep breath and hurled myself
off of the Golden Gate Bridge
as if I had white feathered wings
that would carry me to your doorstep,
and it was a lot like when
I bought all of that rope
from Home Depot and meticulously
tied myself to the train tracks
downtown, where I waited
for you to come save me
because that’s all I ever wanted,
just like when I tattooed
your full government name
across my forehead in Comic Sans
and chopped off all my hair
with your favorite kitchen knife
and pulled the fire alarm
in your dorm while you were
having sex with that girl,
and my God, I even bought matches
and set myself on fire right outside
your bedroom window,
but you never noticed.

image: Jean-Honoré Fragonard after Annibale Carracci Angel Holding a Palm and a Crown, 1763/1764, Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

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