Even Doves Have Pride
It’s the straight girl I dated who’s the most outraged
I married a man, who confessed behind curved hand
Just how much she hated
What I could give her again
And again. Back then I believed her. Truly.
Don’t put me in a poem, she said, then read
One meant for another
And thanked me. It takes a woman, she guessed.
Or a genie. Perhaps the bottle only. If I could live there
Year-round and tax-free. Jump in. Death drop down
A fifth-floor walk-up. No wi-fi,
All pistols, crowded subway platforms.
Under Washington Square arch. Under Caravaggio
In Caffe Reggio. Someone might see us. I’d play rogue
Boyfriend assassin. I’m hard to keep
Alive. You’d think another woman
Would get this. In real life, I’m smaller than I appear
On screen. Whose screen. Wine by the crate.
Why aren’t you saying anything, she’d cry
When I’d get the flu
Or talk about the future.
Dripping wax from flameless candles. Vanilla Maple
Turquoise Sky. I text single words. Random wireless
Popping up. Just paid for more data. I did no such thing.
I like a lot of photos on Instagram. Years later, she cries
Traitor. Executioner. Wet blanket. Sucking
All the power from the ballad.
But does she know what doves do
When they cry. When I’ve put them into a pot
And Snapchat a savage dinner. Rogue dove assassin.
Rogue genie assassin. Chapped-lipped,
And always cold.
Still the ticking
Of the clock, a hunger crooning
Under discount racks of returned clothing.
Thank God, she always fantasized my mother
Scooping me up, you sound like the 2 pm set
At a strip club. Girl not even. Years later, Mama gets a root canal
And goes back to work. Same day. Same rogue waves
Mama passed on. Hard to keep alive. Red tide
First steps where pelicans
Eye small children in fair distance.
No exceptions. How in June algae blooms
Faucet to glass. 12-hour weekend shifts in a music store long gone,
Age 16. But straight girl wants live music. Crystal waters and silent
Bays. Take home more in a week than in a year I made.
Back then I believed her. Truly. I did no such thing.
She never heard a word, not the ticking into a dark
Screen, not the uncharged phone didn’t mean
A world so cold didn’t mean
It’s— she was never
No such thing
The dryness of her eyes
When she cried
How do I get you alone tonight?
Born to a Mexican mother and Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a CantoMundo Fellow. She was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan, and a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the author of SOLECISM (Virtual Artists Collective, 2013), a contributor to The Conversant, and an Editorial Advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Her poems appear in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, Hunger Mountain, among others. She writes weekly for The Kenyon Review blog, and recently joined the Creative Writing faculty at UCLA Extension. Find her at 7TrainLove.org.