Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sarah Heller

Everyone's Ex-Girlfriend

Everyone's ex-girlfriend keeps showing up.
She surfaces when I've only just relaxed,
when I let things be
soft. I recognize her because I've been her so well.
You have nothing to worry about,
he says. Why would I want someone
who tried so hard to hurt me?
And then the distracted look.

She used to scream at everyone,
was the first to walk out.
Everyone's ex-girlfriend
had sex with their good friends
during a phase.

Everyone's ex-girlfriend is always
meeting everyone late at night.
Busy girl. He says
Maybe I'll stop by after
and then calls from home.
I say Did you have a good time
and he says We've really grown apart.
But I can picture the tall bar stools.

You look great, they might
say to each other, shiny eyes. You always were
like that. Some things never change.
It's snowing! The snow is in their hair.

When he says It was wild to see someone
after so long, I hear Our skin was so cold.

Everyone says
I don't know who I am right now.
I feel like I haven't felt anything in a long time.

Alright, he says to her,
You're giving me a hard-on.
Really, she murmurs. She is so mean.
Her drink splashes around in her glass.
Touch it, he says.

My Life on a Conveyor Belt

Mostly, my lover lies there,
his soft penis against his thigh.
He is sleeping. I watch him go by.
Then – the commandments.
And my body parts,
breasts falling to the side
snagging on the rubber,
hair flowing from a small white plate
covered with tildes.
The clear plastic bowl on top.
The hostess seats people all around me.
Desire shimmers by like the pavement
in sunshine. My family is not on the belt,
they are in me.
The belt motors:
a beautiful soap dish,
a small machine.
Some soup, or at least a soupy substance.
Piles of sugar.
Plus one man.
My heart pounds. Is it the sugar?
Fear like an animal crouching
at the night opening of a tent. Dark
at first, and then the eyes adjust.

Sarah Heller received her BA from Bard College and her MFA in poetry from NYU. She currently works as the Executive Director of the Authors League Fund and teaches at Rutgers University. She has work published or forthcoming in Painted Bride Quarterly, Pembroke Magazine, NextBook The Temple/El Templo, Thin Air, and Hayloft, and she is on the board of directors of Nightboat Books. She has received fellowships or awards from the MacDowell Colony, the Drisha Institute, Virginia Council for the Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and the Soul Mountain Retreat. She was the recipient of the Nadya Aisenberg Fellowship at the MacDowell Colony for 2005-2006.