The Museum Rules


   You’re staring at my mouth again and here
                                                                                 is the wonder,
                                                                                                                    the butterflies.

Here is the way you swathe me in sweet nothings,
                                                    hazy warmth that pulls me

   All of this is yours—
                    if you want me.

                                                                 Tell me that you want me.
                                                                             Don’t pretend we aren’t going to fuck.

   Or shall we make love?
                Love, my love, intertwine your fingers with mine.
                                                                                              This isn’t love.
Is it?

                                No, this is not love.
                                                                    This is the other thing,
                                                        the awful thing.
The ugly thing.

                                                           Here is hickey mottled skin and hitched breathing,
                          the way you wash your hands when it’s over like a plea for absolution,
                                                      the ceramic stillness when I clamour for your touch and
the emptiness
                                               when I remember that your hands are always cold,
                                                                                                               even in the summer.

Here is where you smoke cigarettes like a dollar-store Sartre
                                                                                           or the antagonist of a bad poem.
            Don’t be like that, baby, you say when you notice the tears. You always do.
Smoke pulls
                         away from your lips.
                                                                          You exhale.
                                                                                                                      I breathe in.

            It’s your stupid cigarette, asshole, I say, because I can’t
(don’t know how to) say,
                                       I hate that you make my chest ache
                                                                     and I think we both know
                I’m not talking about second-hand smoke anymore.

Here is where you pretend you don’t know I pretend I don’t know that you’re
               sick of me.

Here is the wanting that comes in waves and here is where I reach
for you when you pull away, further, too far, and here
                                                                                                                    is the distance

Here are the museum rules:
1. Admire from afar.
2. Keep your filthy fingers to yourself.
3. Force your whole fucking beating heart back between your ribcage and swear you’ll never let it out again.

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