I should have known when he sent me
the kissy face. Maybe the point is not to
choose. There is a poem in the desert
and there is a bike in the middle of it.
I can’t see it, but it’s there above the red
cliffs, the blue paint, hunters moving
fast toward primary colors. I still don’t
know what to do with all these bones.
I remember the bee dying one afternoon
in between the lime green cushion
and rotting wood. My friend was there
and I didn’t cry for two days. What
I remember most was you stopping
to pick up the piece of broken kindling
to tell a story of ecosystems, this extinct
fungus glowing on the red rocks. I get so
tired of men asking me for a blowjob
over coffee. I want a helicopter to fly over
and to know that it’s there. I want the bee
to move one of its wings in the middle
of the oil slick and for the blue paint
to scatter. I want to see your grocery lists
in book spines, the desert sky, in knowing
that all things end. I want to be the bike
that is hard for colonists to reach, to be
leaving, always leaving. Months later,
a student writes, muscles are some of
the first organs broken down, and the most
important muscle in the body is the heart.
I should have known that in order to take
from the body, you have to give to the body.
I should have known that I was only building
a small empire to put things on.
Sarah Bates has an MFA in Poetry from Northern Michigan University and currently teaches at Southern Utah University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, 45th Parallel, The Rumpus, Meridian, Best New Poets 2017, American Literary Review, Seneca Review, The Normal School, Rattle, RHINO, and Hotel Amerika, among others.