You can see jellyfish pink-blue veins in Angie’s arms and chest.
Her heart flutters like she’s swum too far out at sea. She
is afraid she’ll die with the weight on her heart;
we are all afraid of it.
Levi drank a bottle of vodka and
inhaled butane gas and
pulled tight the noose and
jumped over the side of the bridge.
Angie’s mother took her there after the funeral.
There were flowers laid, and all she could think of
was the crack of his young neck breaking,
the blood inside of him coagulating.
And suddenly mortality reveals itself to us, us asylum girls—
we have stepped back from the edge.
Angie is wearing black this month,
She couldn’t be any slimmer,
though she’s off the drip and her appetite’s better—
other lads are interested in her,
the hug of her human bones,
She tells me about them, and about how many sit ups
She can do on home leave when her parents aren’t watching.
I am afraid to touch her in case she falls to dust.
I am afraid to touch her in case she wants me to.
Levi is not coming back even though she’s made out with his ghost.
Levi has left the building.
Levi couldn’t give a stuff about coming back to haunt us.
He is making his way down to the Lethe
where her name will form a bubble and fly out of his mouth
in a hiccup. His body is black like the skin of a polar bear.
He has died many times, he has drowned.
We all try to remember to pay for his soul,
our hands to our lips, not sure how death came down in the night
and touched us, and wanted for us.

from Beautiful Girls (Penned in the Margins, 2013), © Melissa Lee-Houghton 2013, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Melissa Lee-Houghton in the Poetry Store

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