integral honesty

it baffles me so
to see you slide
against wanting men
in their burgundy vests
whilst telling me
as I stand against walls
that I shouldn’t think to dare
giving him my number.

together in the same week
we sat across, face to face
while I swallowed back
my caustic stories
behind my sudden tendency
to cringe at a pigeon’s coo
and wallow into pint-sized cups
of salted pistachios, cold.

you advised me to sit closer to God
and I tried not to take it as a slight
to be pardoned by one’s exemption
through nighttime’s convenience
of a four-door Mazda with pillows thrown
in the back where leaflets curled
throughout the entire trip to fetch groceries
and remind ourselves of Fridays.

the eyes that bulge
as lids have thinned
looking more like Kleenex roofing half-filled cups
that children leave on foldable tables
when told not to waste anything consumed
because turning one’s face from what carries life
surely beckons the Lamb’s tasteless tears
and demands to kiss His feet.

these are not fortunes
but I’ve seen you turn away
and think for a moment with gritted teeth
when I say I’m fine all over again
without an idea of what to say
while you mention some pastor
has all the right words to have me walk
a street you think I’ve never passed.

I have my dress laid out today
with tights and a sweater, headband too
that reminds me of Coptic iconography
surviving with integral honesty,
laughing as I struggle to master its steps
in a barefooted dance on hissing gravel
while you descend and wait for a taxi,
adjusting the Lycra of your fraying pleats.

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