Lost on Mardi Gras
There were a lot of gutters where I could have laid my body drunk,
but I chose this one.
New Orleans is convincing like that.
The pitted gravel settling for a scraped knee but craving some hot tire,
the rosé sloshing the streets like young blood,
like a goddamn parade.
The moths preserved and strung up in place of the eaten-away lights,
which is why I couldn't find you in that loud night.
I remembered my mother's grocery store advice: don't move, never move, I'll find you.
So I planted. You've always been the better hunter between the two of us.
I thought of you, six bars away, laughing with some hooker, the frosting crusting
onto your shirt collar, the one I ironed in the hotel,
You would notice I was gone. Of course you would.
The question isn't if you'd notice.
Though, it could be the question.
You're a good enough liar for it.
This is the perfect place for a magic trick like that: the threat of your hand on the small of
another woman's back,
and I disappear completely. Ta-da.
I remember one December you looked at me and said:
"You're just not the one. It's just not you."
And I believed that. I really did.
Just when you thought you knew me,
thought of me spilling compassion like a bodiless water,
you noticed me looking at road kill for too long,
the fascination flushing my cheeks,
the Mother in me reaching all her hands towards the lifeless thing,
smeared and twitching on the road.
I have no stomach. Death passes through me easy as breath.
When you found out about my job,
the small guillotine I use on the lab rats,
how I take off my gloves to mop the blood,
a furious hive of images ruptured inside you:
Me chest first down the stairs, the smooth dive of a swan,
A steaming elixir dripping down my face as the blood blossoms down my thighs,
Clorox burning the baby out of me, dropping out in clumps and clots.
But it didn’t go that way:
I thought the nausea was just that red-dressed devil,
the breasts tender from bite,
the belly swollen from beer,
the body just approaching the familiar eve-curse.
It fell out of me in the night.
I woke up covered in the names I had dreamt,
the small face adorned with your eyes.
Effy Fritz’s poetry has been featured on MTV News and Button Poetry, among other places. Effy was a member of the 2015 Temple University CUPSI team which was awarded Best Group Performance. She holds a BSc in Neuroscience and is currently immersed in immunological research at the University of Pennsylvania.
Cover image: Horace Brodzky's The Bather (1914), with thanks to the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at The New York Public Library.