Before Hunger, Before Rain

We drink, swarmed by flies and gnats.
Streetlamps thrum a glow that hits
the film of leaves, flushes the bole
to lime. Shadows break at trunks
            and pass. Behind us are sheets

creased and flecked with skin. That
is the quiet, there. Here are wine stains
on your teeth, now strands of spit,
now flights of bats from towers. Days before
            you told me how your father

killed your sister’s dog, your brother
shot two doves from a tree. So we’re
killers. So talk of murder and meat.
What are tears when moths beat
            our lashes to dust, when eyes

won’t shut? The back of a hand knows.
Here, mouths slake and mold. Remember,
we have been other. We have been the snap
of a flame and oil dripping from an oar.
            We have been coal and ash

and rising. The quiet between our sighs
is war. Beneath our thighs, bones drone
with wanting, pray for the savor of wind.
Did you know our throats are flutes? You say.
            Play, play, you say.