photo by Kati Mennett

by Chris Middleman

Your 22 year-old eyes are
painfully crystal, giving away you’ve
neither been bitten hard by accumulated debt
or have seen things you’ve
cherished dashed across black asphalt

You spend your tip money on the same
piercings the other waitresses have,
and you pose carefully at bars for
internet snapshots, your martini glass
a lousy signifier of adulthood

Mostly, though, I get the sense
that men are still boys to you,
that love is apple-picking,
paddleboats and trips to hookah bars,
mix CDs and hand-written cards

I’ve learned my love is butcher’s work
We’d both take turns on the block,
elbow-deep in each other’s guts
fumbling our way up under the ribcage
and carving at the meat each of us was, whole