torrin a. greathouse
Content Warnings
"when you run into an old friend / for the first time in years /..."
Dec 28, 2020 9:50 PM

when you run into an old friend / for the first time in years /

smile wide / call them by their name / ask them about these

lost days / all the things that have passed / like rivers

between you

when their eyes wander / across your body like tourists

rediscovering a city they once knew / pretend not to notice

pretend they do not notice / the tree that has grown / its way

out of your palm / twisted in the dirt / the way that you walk

crooked / slowly / on one more leg than you used to

when they open their mouth like a palm / snatch their

questions from the fingers of their teeth / your lips are

chapped with answers / jaw heavy with this story //

fathers boot on chest / ribs cracked like wishbones / boy

grows crooked / like trees in the wind

when you speak this story / feel how light it becomes / how

you have learned / to amputate the unnecessary / cut

vestigial words like cloth / till sentences trickle / off the

tongue / as broken as this body

when they keep staring / [like the three legged man / is only

a side show / in this one-man circus] / be patient / maybe

they are just trying to understand // scarlet lips / eyelids

sprouting black wings / stubble jutting through soft skin / like

a bed of nails / you are the bearded lady / they never

expected you to be

when they open their mouths / to speak / fill them with the

word freak / let it echo around the room / like gunshots / like

a lion tamer's whip / let it keep filling up the room / until both

of you are drowning

when their words swim to you / across this ocean

you have poured into their throat / play them back

with the needle scratch of your eardrums // it's good to see

you again // agree / as if you never expected them to say

any different

when you go to sleep tonight / play back the words again

remember how easily you imagined pitchforks on their lip

show a moment of silence can stretch / long enough to hang

yourself on

when you wake in the morning / remember their kindness /

again / remember the noose of silence / remember that so

often / you are the one who kicks the chair

TORRIN A. GREATHOUSE (they/them or she/her pronouns) is a genderqueer, cripple-punk from Southern California. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Black Napkin Press. Their work is published or forthcoming in Bettering American Poetry, The Offing, Duende, Apogee, Frontier, Lunch Ticket, Assaracus, and Glass: Journal of Poetry. She is a 2016 Best New Poets, and Pushcart Prize nominee, and semifinalist for the Adroit Poetry Prize. torrin's first chapbook, Therǝ is a Case That I Ɐm, is forthcoming from Damaged Goods Press in 2017. When they are not writing, their hobbies include pursuing a bachelors degree, awkwardly drinking coffee at parties, and trying to find some goddamn size 13 heels.