I made love with a man—hugely muscled, lean—the body
I always wished for myself. He kept pulling my arms
up over my head, pinning them there, pressing me down
with his entire weight, grinding into me roughly,
but then asked, begged, in a whisper of such sweetness,
Please kiss me. Earlier that evening, he told me
he’d watched a program about lions, admired
how they took their prey—menacing the herds at the water hole
before choosing the misfit, the broken one.
What surprised him was the wildebeests’ calm
after the calf had been downed, how they returned to their grazing
with a dumb switching of tails. Nearby the lions looked up
from their meal, eyed the hopping storks and vultures,
before burying their faces, again, in the bloody ribs.
As a teenager, I wished to be consumed,
to be pressed into oblivion by a big forceful man.
It never happened. Instead I denied myself nourishment—
each un-filled plate staring back satisfied me, deprivation
reduced to a kind of bliss I could lie down in
where I remained unmoved, untouched.
Early on I was taught that the body was a cage,
that illness was a battle fought with chaos,
the viruses themselves unnatural; that sex lived
in some pastel chamber that gave way to infants,
first cousins, the handing down of names.
No one ever mentioned being taken in the dark,
or wanting to be broken open, pushed beyond words,
tongue thickening in another human mouth,
or how a person could be humiliated and like it.
To my surprise, I found myself struggling under this man,
pushing me chest up against his chest, arms straining
against the bed, until some younger, hungrier
version of myself lay back on top of me and took it—
the heaving back, the beard, the teeth at the throat.