THE FIRST, SUDDENLY
Sabrina Hayeem-Ladani

He leaned against the porcelain sink
while I reached for him in the dark—one hand
on the cruddy tile wall, the other at the root of it.
A novice, I didn’t fall to my knees
as I had been told it was done, but instead
bended over at the hip, marionette puppet with her jaw agape.
I don’t remember asking myself
if I had wanted to do it—choice
was not a language my mouth had learned, but still
I took him in again and again.
Took in everything I itched to become, raced
to the tower of some blazing city, curled myself
around its lighthouses, morphed
like a strange creature keeping itself alive.
Then suddenly—
taste of copper, salty tip
blooming on my tongue,
alchemy of sweat and spit.
I took and took, labored
over what was broken, loved
what had been cast aside.
And in the taking,
there was reparation—
the    shards
of       glass
finding           each    other
afterthebreaking.


TO MY LEFT BREAST THAT HANGS LOWER THAN THE RIGHT

You rogue breast, you maverick.
Reminding me I am imperfect, ego-killer breast.
How you sag and hold that pencil tight as a baby would
her father’s finger. How you frown at the other, jealous
of her bright skin, smooth as a softball.

Sweet breast, you are the dirty uncle at the picnic,
eccentric one in the room, peeking out of my dress
just to get a glimpse—you are nothing but trouble.

Oh, but when I dance, you collect sweat beneath the cleft
like a rain gutter. When making love you hang as low
as the anchor of a ship, as if trying to kiss the armpit,
trying to be part of the love.

You are always the first to speak.
To a new lover—touch me first
To their mouths— I taste like your tongue would if you could kiss yourself

If I were a man I would cup you first, take the bruised pear
in my mouth to taste your bitter-sweetness.
I would hold the nipple, darker than the other,
between my teeth until it perked like a lentil under water.
The areola, turmeric-stained moon, I would rest upon my eyes.

At night, when I have no one, and sometimes
even when I do, it’s you my hand reaches for.
Between wakefulness and sleep,
it’s you I take with me, into the dark.


A native New Yorker, Sabrina Hayeem-Ladani has been a poet and performer of various genres for more than 15 years. She was an invited author at the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica and is a former member of the louderARTS Project. Her work was published in the anthology, Parse (FriendlyFire Press), and she was most recently published in the anthology So Much Things To Say: One Hundred Poems of Calabash (Akashic Books). Sabrina is an original member of the Hot Poets Collective, a group of diverse poets who have been writing and performing together since April 2011. They recently published their first collection, Of Fire, Of Iron. She currently resides in Brooklyn.

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