Oil on panel with string
30 in x 40 in
This piece was created in response to a poem written by Katrina Kirkpatrick.
What Would Have Happened If That One Thing Never Happened
Listen: I could write odes to your mouth. I could dedicate my life to mapping out your tongue, your cranberry gums, the rows of ivory teeth, standing like soldiers. Keys to your harmony. Your mouth pulls words from me, words like ‘wrecked’ and ‘wanting.’
Listen: when I was ten, my grandmother gave me her wedding ring and told me not to fall in love. She warned against the hands of men and eyes like fingernails. But it was the mouths she hated most, she said, the mouths like Adonis’s lean and freckled waist. Mouths full of cemeteries. Mouths full of tombstones.
Listen: I love you so much that the sky burns with it. We woke together in New York today and the dawn was on fire. When you made me breakfast, all the curious clouds were scattering and stumbling over themselves, borne blue from smoke. I kissed your shoulder blade, and the sun made love to the horizon. You taste like burning to the ground.
Listen: I turned sixteen, and a man touched me for the first time. He was seared and sun-kissed. It did not happen slow, it happened hard on the floor shading my consent. Bruises, legs, lips. That was the first mouth I touched, and it still stains my teeth some days. I’m sorry if sometimes you taste him, but, now I need you to listen.
Listen: my grandfather was made of concrete and steel. Especially his fists and his will and I inherited them both.
Listen: I was taught from a young age that love is supposed to leave you bruised.
Listen: you are teaching me softness. You are teaching me warmth. I love you so much, it makes a birds’ nest of my heart, made of found, broken things but you could call it home.
Listen: a baby cries, innocence sings, and it sounds a lot like Manhattan collapsing to the ground.