Undergraduate Contest Winner: Poetry

Thomas Aguila

Corrosive You/Corrosive Me

I said, "Corrosive you."

When your eyes,
broke my breath to sand,

while you lied against me,
          the lonely hue of the world,

I have to say
I felt nothing
          ⎯but the blue

of some fluorescent
          light above

and your eyes,
like the stained sun, so still,
catching each crack,

          frail, in the drywall,
          ⎯of our faces,
          against the times

          you know will crumble
          from our heat.

I paint my breath
          on your chest⎯
           but my palette is as pale

as a harp ⎯ in each voice
          coming apart,
          through the door,

          a shallow inhale, caught
          on your dry lips.

And I think, "I've lost nothing"
          when the door feel to dust,
          with a click, behind you,

nothing ⎯ but few pounds
          some hair

You said, "Corrosive me."

He called me, the most poisonous kind of person. And to prove his point I threw some recyclables in the trash, the pieces of fired and sharpened sand we'd just fallen over. He said, those bits could be used again some day ⎯ in the bottom of cigarette trays or maybe to free some oil patches from some drive-way. But I knew, wherever they'd be, I would see their heights again one day, against the pavement sun or under the lingering orange sparks of half-smoked butts, height enough to take to bed and cover against the sheets, heights enough to dizzy the touch and flay away each word of the world. Soon enough I can't sleep at all ⎯ my sheets feel like lying on the beach, with no sun and a black-yellow tide for water.

I say, "It's best to throw away those little fragments falling from us, which crawl between our lips while we sleep. I have enough fevers, without my body like the fading forms of storms, where every snow flake is another person, with more indifference towards me, more than even you can give, than there are grains in abandoned seas."

Goodbye, we say, the voices below the lid, as I store the dust pan and broom back into their places ⎯ so I know where to find them, when coming upon more frozen grit on the collapsing floor, dangerous for bare feet ⎯ so I know where to find them, when finding the reviving pulse that I won't hope to beat.