“What Comes Before” and Other Poems by Leah Grover

By Leah Grover

Sensations

“You’re amazing.”

Rehearsed words flow
over my chewed-up lips.
My arms clench
around my knees, fingers laced.

I’m trying to say
we can never be together,
Only—
I’m afraid that I’m wrong.

I’m shaking hard because
something
is pulling me toward you
despite myself.

You help me up,
our hands touching.
I fall
into you.

You hear what I’m
afraid to say,
paying no heed
to the words on my tongue.

You stroke my arms,
my sides,
trying
to caress away my fears.

Your familiar smell
so comforting.
Your hand in my hair
so calming.

My clenching stomach,
quick heartbeat,
terrible trust
unnerving.

“I’m confident.
You’re what I want.
I’m going to be with you.”

We’re sitting. You take
my hand, fingers
blooming open, with mine—
lacing until I’m dizzy.

My mouth protests
but my almost-true love seems
to start with your jawline
on my forehead.

The shaking won’t stop,
even with your hand
on my waist, and mine
on your neck.

You smile at me,
sending confusion tumbling
in the pit of my stomach,
down to where I begin.

Stomach twists—and I
gasp, almost crying;
my lips pull downward,
voice wavering out more protests,
fears.

Under the flickering light
of this gazebo, I want
you like you want me: Forever.
But what about when we leave?

“I’ll never leave you, dear.
I’ll never give up.
I’m happy right here,
holding you, looking at you.

“Are you happy, dear?”

Nachos and Marriage

I can’t write about you without coming away exhausted and covered in sticky cheese.

I can’t talk about you except in sweet phrases and quiet melodies.

All those soft passions would be enough to make me sick coming from someone else, but when they’re about you, it’s different. It’s right.

Then comes rage,
that feeling not connected with your person, but with hers.

The pain of insult, the ire of being wrongly judged, the wrath which flares up when ignored or brushed aside—
these used to be foreign to me.

Now, we are intimate, well on our way to becoming friends.

Hatred is creeping in, too; and hardness.

Fending them off seems near impossible; a feat of strength beyond Atlas himself.

I’m craving sticky cheese—soft and warm, savory and delicious—but the tortilla chips are cutting the roof of my mouth, inserting salt into the wounds.

I want one without the other; I want the cheese to make the chips softer.

But it doesn’t.
I’m not sure it can.

They come in equal measure.

So I will eat the two together: soft and crunchy, salty and savory, sharp and gooey.

One might suffer salty wounds for the sake of deliciously sticky cheese.

The Virginia Reel

I hear myself teasing him:
He hasn’t danced with me
yet, secretly–
He’s half of why I’m here.
We join the lines,
facing one another.
My eyes are flirting with him,
Bold, more audacious
than my words.
He smiles right back.
Does he see into me?
Can he read the pages in my eyes?
He must–
but perhaps he can’t.

The music is inside of me,
making my heart beat,
Body move,
Eyes smile,
and I feel it all, everything.
I tease his hand on my shoulder blade–
Is he afraid?
It moves to my waist as
we twirl together.

Reeling down the line,
we laugh.
A joy I haven’t felt in ages consuming me–
Eyes lock,
Four smiles,
Lines forward, lines back.
We don’t look away–
should I?

My skirt flares as we run:
a flying,
orange blur in the window,
Shock of red on black before my eyes;
He grabs my hands and we careen to a halt
Grinning,
gasping,
cheering.
The Virginia Reel.

What Comes Before

I feel the yearning as it eats my soul:
I’m craving you;
For the last time you touched me—
how you held on so tight,
how you took me off-guard,
how I didn’t want to let go;
For your laugh;
The way you smile when we walk home,
For that moment when it’s just me and you.
Stay with me in that moment—
Pause in the alley,
but don’t look back.
Hug me, but don’t let go,
Say my name without what comes before:
“Goodnight.”
Keep time from evaporating so soon.


IMG_0990Leah Grover is the sole writer for www.twirlywrites.com. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading YA romances or exploring the DC area with her husband.

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