State Street  

Copyright © Lee Ann Mortensen 2002




The occasional skip of pain moved through your eyes
as hands pressed down on a bola the man had given you.
ďBola, testicle, whatever helps.  Just hang on when it hurts,Ē he said.  

His handlebar mustache hardly moved
as he needled your first tattoo, a bear tiny as a dime.
He pushed into your skin as your lover and I sat close  

and touching, watching him wipe points
of blood off your ankle.  I kept looking at your eyes
your mouth, to see the signs of cabalistic burning,  

the transcendent wordlessness of sex-feeling in every prick.
Thatís what I felt the first time.  ďItís like totally orgasmic,Ē
a teenager kept telling me while I was having it done,  

and my head went all floaty, and I thought I did feel the sex of it.
But on your night someone in another stall was talking about truck engines
and pussy.  And the walls seemed greasier, and the long-haired addicts  

looked so bored and shaky.
When I got my tattoo I fantasized you were there
with your slow-moving hands on my neck.  

I also wanted the lips of a dark-haired nun kissing me
because Iím perverse that way.  But no one touched either of us
in that dusty manís world on State Street .  No one kissed us deep,  

or transformed our cells with the dark stain of their lips.
No one gave the addicts a lesbian side-show.  No one noticed your lover and I
thinking we knew you enough to make you dream of only us.

And no one saw the changes in you twirling up from below.
Now that Iíve tasted your tattoos, your thighs with my tongue,
nothing on these streets or in our deeper skin will ever be unmarked.