Jessica Tolbert


we slept on a mattress in the garage
cool under the particleboard

on a bare mattress
it was humid and cool we woke in the sun
the garage had two small windows

when I was a kid
I had pads on my feet like I was a dog

I had a full beard when I was 12 they said
scraping at their jaw with my razor and some hand soap

shaved the hair growing on the upper part of their chest
to wear a scoop neck
but they shaved quickly and it left a rash

when I was sick I dreamt of paddling through empty space
together in a half furnished room they could see

my pubic hair through
a white polyester slip

they wore this lovely denim number
with the scoop neck

we were new then and my face was fluid-filled like
I recall feverish

one morning I did
because I was overflowing I was

distended I was a
warm globe of tears I

said something handsome
they said, oh 

hoarse in the corner
paneled behind the bed rail

when I was sick I dreamt a lot about
calling an ambulance and they lay beside me