I Imagine You

By Britt Sanchez

barefoot in the street with
your next-door neighbor,
drinking soda out of bags,
eating with your hands,
letting a stray dog follow you
all the way back to your house.

You say goodbye,
before you’re tied to a tree,
before your tongue is beat out of you,
not even for speaking, but
for swallowing—

I know you dread waking up,
washing your face with cold water
from a bucket while your mother
prays in the kitchen.
Your sister kills herself and
we are all ashamed
(or told to be).

When you were younger,
did you ever indulge
in painted nails, silk pillowcases,
cuffing your shorts
that you cut yourself?

I would tell you I did the same thing,
except mine were too ugly to wear.

If we wore the same outfit,
would we be twins? With hair cut below
the nape of neck, curls bouncing as we run
from corner to corner in the market,
stealing small goods from vendors
who wouldn’t miss it.

The anticipation of leaving!
I never want to be where I am.
Did you feel the same,

contained in your shack,
your loveless bed that
felt the ground beneath it?
Did you too want to
escape in the lamplight,
travel through the empty streets
until you found someone to
lionize, idolize, emanate?

I desire to free your skin,
leave it to shrink behind you
in your shape, your throat wants
to crawl out of your body,
your chest wants to flatten,
as does your stomach, like a
soda can in the middle of the road.
It wants nothing to do with you anymore.
I can see where you’re at, what about me?
Can you see me, in the marsh,
with my shoes wet and muddy?
I take them off—
to be like you.