But This Joke Is Funny

Erin Elizabeth Smith

I order another gimlet and watch the sketched dog on TV make a joke about rape. The bar laughs. One man in a brown suit throws back his head, another holds his gut like he is his own cartoon, shook Jell-O in a white bowl.

I am sixteen

in a hotel

where the walls

pucker in a held

breath. My body

shudders with cold,

a hand reaching

to split my knees.

The dog licks himself and the animated woman pats his head. The man beside me says something about bitches. How loud they bark in heat.

I do not think

I said no, not

exactly. My body

did what bodies

do when touched,

wet and opening.

Even the women in the bar laugh, their men holding their shoulders, turning them around on barstools to put their tongues deep in their mouths. I suck the lime, the deep juniper of it.

I do not know

then what to call it,

what the bleeding meant,

how to ever make it

stop. In hotels now,

I want only a door

I pull tight as a glove,

the hot of small tubs,

the steam that rises,

that keeps rising.


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