The Truth about Loving Me by Sarah Mackey Kirby

The Truth about Loving Me

I thought I knew, but I didn’t,
not until the vomit came.
Whether he had what it took
to love me. To really love me.
If he could stomach a skull dressed with
staples, railroad-tracked from lobe to lobe,
dark curls gross from lack of shampoo.
While I searched for some indication
I was still here. Still human.

Whether he’d sit with me for a month,
as a tongue once used for kissing him
felt so heavy my speech dribbled thick
incomprehensible molasses. And legs
once used to dance ballet and hip-hop
turned to noodles on a sparkly mopped floor.
When my fingers couldn’t grip a pen.

When he drove me to Minnesota,
polar vortex snow punching January white,
in time for a Mayo Clinic Monday
that turned into much longer.
Where icicles dangled gorgeousness
by Mississippi River cliffs
like cave-artist-carved stalactites
to make us both forget for
a moment why we were there.
That we were there.

How I found out the truth….
Not with hot sand toes
on palmetto tree vacations.
Or stargazer lily bouquets.
Or laugh-laden birthdays.
Or pictures posing in summer light.
But in a bed that caught my teardrops
with me pissed at the world.
Some nights, even at him.
Blood and brain goo
draining into an oval container
as he covered an exposed
part of my foot with a blanket.


Sarah Mackey Kirby is a Kentucky poet and writer. She is the author of the poetry collection, The Taste of Your Music (Impspired, 2021). Her poems appear in Ploughshares, Chiron Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Punk Noir, The New Verse News, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She holds an MA in teaching and a BA in political science from the University of Louisville. She and her husband live in Louisville.

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