Recent Work By David Winter

                                                                  A letter from Spain
reads, “I poured the old woman’s blood in the garden,”

as though it were possible to explain such an action,
as though that sentence could follow any other, or

be followed. I read the letter over and over, and later
take a man in my mouth, drink a spoonful of his life,

She had him turned around so bad
he thought he could forget me,
forget his need in a world made

for men unlike ourselves. How I raged
at all the vain accoutrements of love
he gave her: nights out on the town

he charmed, small gifts at prices
she could not guess, a diamond
she still wears on her finger, a child

who still wears his face. Gossamer
etching shadow across her features,
she stood regal in public grief. She,

who failed to answer the needs
of his blood, the voice singing
under his shirt for a supplicant,

a man to worship the brutal fact
of his body, to beg from him
a carnal grace. I knew the talk

on every corner’s sideways mouth:
how he washed his bloodied hands
with wine, toweled off with hundred

dollar bills. I knew so many ways
to make him clean. I bathed him
in my impure mouth. I held his stone

of grief, his stone of fury tightly
in my body’s egress until his sweat
confessed. Men like us only find

salvation in the dark. I never needed
him to own me like his woman did,
or to claim his flesh as my own.

I would have liked to, to be
more than a lingerie’d whore
bent into his shadow’s shape,

but I knew the way he prayed
and hollered in my skinny arms,
knew he came to me for more

than he could bear. Rougher
each time he touched me, I wept
and bruised; he smeared his spit

across my boyish face. Desire
will bury a man easy as money;
neither of us thought to grow old.

But my arms made a ring around
his neck so perfect, I used to think
God measured us for each other

with his own seamstress’ tape.
I nearly crawled into the coffin
to wrap my arms around his corpse,

but no one knew me in that place,
and if they had known, those men
would have buried me years ago.