“Confessional” by Destiny Birdsong

Destiny Birdsong


It’s the weekend, and my armpits smell like fish.
I ate an egg-and-cheese sandwich today, dragging it through
A glob of honey as I watched Forensic Files.

I keep taking the same clothes off and putting them on.
There’s no use doing the laundry in this cold.
I let my slacks air out on a kitchen chair.

I need you, and as these walls get soggier
From enclosure and the leaking water heater,
I hear more of the couple upstairs, fighting.

It’s about money. Their feet pound at my light fixtures.
Later the vacuum will hum dust through the vents.
She will cook for him in the morning. Something with skin.

And I wonder: is this the circumference of my life?
I fondle medicine bottles in the dark.
I keep my cell phone tucked inside my bra.

I used to joke with whoever wanted to listen
That I would be like the crazy lady down the hall.
The one who smells like sardines. The one with the cats.

But now I have loved you. Now I don’t want that.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011


Destiny Birdsong: “I think I began writing poetry because I grew up in a family where you couldn’t talk about certain things. And, as cliché as it sounds, I know when a poem is ready to see the light of day when I tear up after reading it, partly because I’ve said something I’ve been afraid to say, and partly because I’m afraid my mother might read it.”

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