imageLisa Ortiz
Powder Room

We enter armed with handbags
lipstick ammunition, shotgun heels
on our shoes. You
are a stranger to me

by one theory a sister
and my mother mentioned
I should love everyone
but I do not love you.

In the stall beside me I see your feet, the tropical print
of your pants bunched around your ankles
and I hear the sounds
your body makes,

yet today I want to say
over the howl of pipes:
We are all human, are we not?
I want to say

my body, too, is a burden,
an embarrassment, a hex, an ode.
And I think I should slide down and peek my head
beneath the faux marble divide, appear

at the bottom of your stall
maybe pull a face so you
will laugh or scream, paw at your tropical capris
call in hysterical bursts the cops

or maybe you will sigh, gaze down at me and say:
yes, mine is a burden too, but a vessel, you'll explain,
a delicious weight. Or perhaps you'll say
no, not a burden, a feast of flesh, an all-night party

or maybe sit sadly and trace
with your finger a palm tree on your pants
and say, yes, my body is a general, a locked board room
my soul a young soldier under harsh command

and I will stretch out upon my back
there on the tile floor beheath the stalls
hands beneath my head, and we will ignore
the swinging door, the orchestral bursts of water

the strains of others' bodies
and we will talk
of the loves we've clutched, the loves we've borne,
the resentments calicifed in our bones, the way

some men have touched us,
the way some men have not,
the heavy days that have wound
like veins around our legs.

But of course I do not
stretch upon the floor,
and we do not
speak this naked way.

As we wash our hands in the hollow hush,
I nod to you in the mirror. And then
I smell your breath amid the tile and bleach:
it is mangoes and ginger

and we do lean together
toward our twin reflected faces, press lipsticks
against the hollows, the ripened hollows,
of our bullet-hole mouths.

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