Maura Lee Bee

Beloved, Legs Folded by a Coffee Table

You run around a coffee table,
chasing the family dog. 
This will be a fear for the rest of your life.
Your palette clips the corner, 
and teeth shrink into your mouth.
The blood is endless,
the beginning of a childhood.
Your bucks grow back crooked,
canines crowding your adolescent 
mouth. You have headgear,
and ice pops make your skin
crawl. You always feel like you’re
walking on aluminum. 
Your best friend ditches school with you,
and you eat ice cream in the 
cemetery. You are sprinkles on
a gravestone, your shoes
leave holes near the catacombs. 
And your father said, “Be where
you’re supposed to be.” So you
stay in your head,
in the shower, 
spray paint on your dungarees. 
Your friends write dirty things
on the drywall of your old bathroom.
Through the paint, you can still see
the faint remnants of teenage boys.
This is the only birthday you remember.
Then, you’re running. 
Through the park,
down the shore,
the only thing is your heart in your ears.
The next day, 
your father sold his gun.
The next day,
a pig called you a nuisance. 
A kinder creature gives you an out.
You got your GED 
and your first period.
There was so much blood.
And you went through jobs like
underwear and men like 
mismatched socks. Your wedding
was precise. Your father had
eight beers. You had three slices of cake
and you worried about it. 
When you played piano, your fingers
looked like bird’s wings. 
When you painted, your wrist bone
was a rest for your brush. 
When you fell in love,
your collarbone was a place for his chin.
You imagined cicadas
burrowing through your bones.
The dog chewed up your grandmother’s doll,
and you heard bad poetry and
hoped for a better start
to adulthood. Instead, 
bulging body. Instead, 
pastrami sandwiches 
and over-easy eggs. Instead,
bed rest and no cigarettes.
But you talked to your mother,
and your best friend nicknamed 
the baby “birth control”. You had
a Buddhist Monk in your yard,
and he handed you a “wedding stick”:
the largest branch 
with a knot poking through.
Even when your breathing was hollow
as the bones behind your eyes, the air
tasted like snow. The family cat sat on your
chest, covered in dirt. 
Your husband took your pulse. 
You were laying in an empty room,
coughing for your life.
Your last battle scar is twenty years-old.
Tattoos cover your arms, 
but your body remains a reminder. 
You look at your knees and think
of the ungrateful daughter—
the girl with the good teeth,
wanting them knocked out
with a black baton. You want to say
you’re proud, but your tongue
swells in your throat.
You sit at the end of a beach.
You watch the phragmites wave
through winter air. 
You can taste your own heart.
You drink a decaf coffee,
with a splash of cream,
to make sure you don’t

Maura Lee Bee is a queer, LatinX writer based out of New York City.