wake

by Nathaniel Kreeger

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sink me into the mud between dreams,
filmy eyes screwed up when looking at the sun.
i think about brightness as i thumb the slat in the blinds,
brightness and what it does to the body,
how when he told me he loved me
i blinked.

strong-armed heroes
reach for the sun with both hands
and eyes wide open, but i’ve never
wanted like that, or in the right way.
my hungers are quiet and private.
to stare at them till my eyes water
would be obscene.

it’s difficult to say his name
without first swallowing a fistful
of sand, or maybe salt water.
let his name rattle around in my throat.
buffeted by the waves. softened by the grit.
let it come out cleaner
and more polished
than how it entered.

i’m trying to get this poem out of me,
less like getting water out of a stone
and more like getting water out of blood.
here’s a secret:

i don’t want to die. i just want
a little goddamn rest,
and a small enough love
that i can breathe around it.

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NATHANIEL KREEGER is a Jewish trans man originally from Northern California. He studies English/Creative Writing at the University of Iowa.

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