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That Summer

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I thought I understood hunger
that great wide void beneath the western sky
the earth creviced into canyons
veins stretched deep beneath calloused skin
snagged and swollen against sculpted ribs
want petrified into rock.

I thought I knew it all then
charged forward, afraid of nothing
no words for massive coronary implosions yet
pre-panic attacks
and lupus and migraines
pre-Xanax dreams
where I
rub and grope and hump and swallow;
hope carried like a stillbirth in my belly
and sometimes I get so close

I defined true love
as the friction between bone and muscle
tongue choked against tongue
breasts and sweat and tendon
the climactic rush of melody from a Spanish guitar
Long Beach in the dark.

We stood there that night
beneath a thin quarter moon
and refracted sparks of city stars

I scraped Vegas pink toenails into wet sand
and the slashes they left glowed bright electric blue,
fantasies
born of sea and oil.

Lights from a distant ship blinked across the horizon;
tiny shocks of white, she said,
against all that dark,
that flashed, then fled,
like something haunted.

— Angela Gaito-Lagnese

Agnela Gaito-Lagnese is a member of the English faculty at Community College of Allegheny County. She holds an master's of fine arts in English writing and a master's of education in special education from Slippery Rock University. She lives in Brookline. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Saturday morning on WESA 90.5 FM.

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