Love, Whose Pronoun is We, Collect Me

Shira Erlichman

We are in the river now, the voice of water entering and reimagining us. We are in the red pickup now, the radio undressing for country. There is a dirt made road and a family of skunks, I swear — children skunks no bigger than a roll of toilet paper waddle down the peripheral thicket. We are in the diner now, you with runny eggs, me with sensitive teeth chugging the black linen of coffee. When I ask you a question, I answer. When you let the seam out of your voice and its sweetness stuns the waitress, I’m the waitress, and the seam. Too, the window, is a we. Too, the gravity of our dog burying himself in the tiles for comfort, for what spills. Beshert, can I ask you another — can I pour you into my — would you still kiss me if — but before you can answer, a we of geese creates and uncreates in the sky the window clutches. We are in a green pickup now, the red made green by a light we zing through. The swimmer’s muscles of your neck, the greening, and your voice: my only trinity.

Slow down, you say, with your foot on the gas. Slow down, I say, unzipping my silver windbreaker for what my breasts have to say. You necessitate me, we unravel a mouth simultaneous.

I wrote you a letter, we say. I’m terrified, drowning, winter is, we say, my father is donated to the earth, what now. We are in an elevator now in a McDonald’s in Times Square getting hash browns because we are drunk, and drunk. The elevator’s interior is a jewel of mirrors, you belong to every facet, to my every face. And what am I supposed to do now. I’m drunk in the loneliest mirror, in the most neon, inarticulate chamber of the United States.

Your fingertips, greased with potato, whisk my lip. We are in a bed, a riverbed, the bed of a truck, a good bad diner, a red red hour, a ten year fling, a shitty McDonald’s, a body, mine, yours, wherever I go, we pummels me.

How could I fight this bliss of fists? We are in my bed, my body, with no clock. Even dawn is a we, so I part the curtain’s hair to one side to let us in.

Shira Erlichman is a poet, musician, and visual artist living in Brooklyn, New York. She is the winner of the Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry and a Finalist for the Lambda Award. She is the author of Odes to Lithium and the author-illustrator of Be/Hold: A Friendship Book.