Betsy Housten

Spectacular Failures & Other Gifts

Second most miraculous: I'd kept my lipstick all night, 
stuck to my palm when I came to on Jack's bathroom floor. 
Crinoline ripped, hem wine stains, earring lost to a grave
behind the toilet. Friends on the couch, rehashing my party. 

Faces said I looked wrecked as I felt, wrung-out stomach, 
throat post-exorcism. In daylight the gin cask lurked
like a monster. I went to you in my uninhabitable dress. 
You tucked me into your bed, white noise machine purring 

oblivion; I surrendered my life to you, angel sent to earth
to pluck me from the cataclysm of that year and cradle
my desperate bones into something sacred and deserving – 
the first girl who broke my heart, the apartment I loved 

infested with bugs that wouldn't die. Every terrible leaving
rendered transcendable: your hands in my hair. I slept. 
Hours later in your kitchen, a vision in flannel and denim, 
you warmed leftovers, root vegetables with herbs, and

right then I believed in an order to the world, some grand
unknowable plan to guide our scuffed, stumbling souls.

Betsy Housten is a Pushcart-nominated queer writer and massage therapist. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Cold Creek Review, Terse Journal, Cotton Xenomorph, Vagabond City, Bone & Ink Press, Burning House Press, Longleaf Review, Memoir Mixtapes and elsewhere. She lives in New Orleans, where she is pursuing her MFA in poetry.