Issue 24 / Winter 2021 / Special Issue: Pleasure
I smile, but sometimes your words fill too much space
in my phone, making me think you’re afraid of the void,
the empty screen, of being in a room alone. I recognize
this fear. I’ve been in that room wishing away stillness.
I made a practice of holding myself. In bed, I press
one hand to cheek and crook fingers around neck
to caress thumb against skin. Once, I rubbed the lobe
of your ear with the same intent. “What are you doing?”
I thought of a past lover, and how he rubbed his feet
against mine beneath blankets to soothe me to sleep.
I call myself beautiful. And when I can’t, I call the cat.
She sits tall and black in morning light, green eyes waiting.
“Luna, you’re so beautiful,” I say as I wake. I tell her
this everyday because it’s true. She reminds me of the same.
I buy myself flowers. Feed myself berries and pour-over
coffee for breakfast. In the afternoons, I take long naps
and, at golden hour, long walks. When my mind races,
I read aloud to myself. You can too. I want that for you.
Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and the author of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge (Sundress Publications 2016). A former Steinbeck Fellow, Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange winner, and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grantee, she’s received residencies from Hedgebrook, Ragdale, National Parks Arts Foundation, and Poetry Foundation. She has work published in Acentos Review, CALYX, crazyhorse, and [PANK]. Most recently her poem, “Battlegrounds,” was featured at The Academy of American Poets, Poem-A-Day. She is a member of Miresa Collective and director of Women Who Submit.