When I was young, I got a lot of canker sores. My dad
said it was from all the orange juice I drank trying to make
the Wisconsin winters tropical. He’d crush an aspirin
between two mismatched and tarnished spoons,
place the powder on the sore. It would fizz
and my eyes would moisten like the fleshy space
beneath my tongue. It would eat the sore, cauterize
the weakness worn into the strawberry pocket
of my cheek. It would hurt like hell.
But it would empty the wound — leave it
numb and impotent, a benign hollow
where a fire no longer churns.
This is why I think of my former lover
folded around another, clinging like tissue paper;
this is why I think of his sweet-worded mouth
on her stomach, never strained or stretched with life.