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Cheryl Kidder: Two Poems
Killer | Watching Ellie Sleep


After fucking you'd say:
"Oh my God"
every time.
A rhythm I thought I'd never
get tired of. But
oh my god how you came
to bore me
with that.
We started at a double
feature in the Castro,
the only straight folks there that night.
Burt Lancaster and Barbara Stanwyk.
It smelled like sex.
Your hand
so close. We had Chinese
or Thai. You wanted
to leave your girlfriend, remember?
or she wanted
to leave you.
You were with me then, crawling
up out of my double bed in the Mission,
drunk on nothing
more than my breath, you said
"I want to know you for twenty years" as if
that were the sinew, the promise of bone
grafting us in place, hoping
once to use the words
in the right place
with a woman who'd
see it through with you.
And now, twenty years gone
how did it rip away, how
did the blood dry up,
the cells mutate, that once
held us tongue to hip, eye
to breast?
Hope conjured on so little,
I've been meat, pounded and dead
since you've been gone.

Watching Ellie Sleep

It's not because getting her to sleep in the first place was the hardest thing I ever had to do.
It's not because she didn't sleep through the night one night in four years.

It's not because now, in the habit of waking at 3:35, I still get up, six years later,
crack her door to throw a pencil of light across her covers to make sure she's still there, still breathing.

And it's not because I see my face or my childhood in her parted lips, cheeks dark
with this desert heat and lashes so much like that dark man I fell in love with.

It's because I spent so much time convinced that I would never see this much beauty
every day; convinced for so long that the great love of my life would be a man.

Poet's Biography:
  Cheryl Kidder completed her B.A. in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, where she is close to completing her M.A. in Creative Writing as well. She's worked with Robert Hass, Richard Ford, and Lee K. Abbott, and is currently working with Meg Files and Gina Franco in Tucson. She's published both poetry and fiction in The Reed, Amelia, Dog River, Alchemy, Sandscript and several college newspapers and literary journals. This spring her fiction took second place in Pima College's literary magazine Sandscript where she's published fiction and poetry for the last three years. Her fiction also took second place for the 2001 Martindale Literary Award. This is her first online poetry publication.

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