Aphrodite’s Last Acolyte

Rebecca Hazelton

You skimmed in on a pearl pink shell, left us bobbing

in the wake of your breasts. There was no party

until there was you. In the wings we all

snapped to — readying your next costume change,

topping off your drink, even pulling a disapproving face

when you needed that, too. One guy just blew

the wind so your hair was always off your shoulders.

Love means never having to say you’re sorry

love means saying sorry so often. I’m sorry

I can’t say aloud your real name, curled in my mouth

like a mint leaf, crushed between my gentle teeth.

Your false name, the one you gave to me, to anyone

who had hands open to receive, pushes out

from my mouth like a swollen tongue.

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