The District’s Body
The streetlights are skeletons,
and the District is almost quiet.
Some in cocktail attire wait
on the corners for taxis
along the weather-tired homeless,
who ask for spare cigarettes
rather than spare change.
I want a District populated by
the erect spines of streetlights,
the streetlights holding vigil
at the edges of the city, above
the row houses, barred windows
driving the light into slivers.
This is where the District is
a tint of yellow. On 11th NW,
an almost-elderly Haitian woman
walks a small dog. She wears
a raincoat, but it hasn’t rained.
She pointedly walks the street,
though it’s near two in the morning.
Her lips press together in the way
experience and firm practice
will merge into permanence.
She turns onto Euclid
and away from the street-glow.
Whips of smoke uncoiled from our mouths
and choked the single porch light,
the light already dim and worthless
and the streetlights were too far from us.
Our faces fell into the night,
our features abstracted in shadow,
until we were broken figures
set against the never-dark of DC
and the continuum of smoke and perspiration
drifting into the heat that marks August with salt.
August is called the dog days,
the carnal end of Summer,
the most lurid season—Summer
is the season of flesh,
and you liked when I’d uncross my legs,
my dress near the edge of my hips.
You already knew my flesh,
and we both knew the taste salt. August
is a bead of sweat on your neck,
and I craved that salt. No, we craved salt.
As we shared a cigarette, I remembered
your mouth and how well I can coil.
Jae Dyche is an MFA in Creative Writing Poetry student at the University of Maryland. She is the parent of a very strange cat, Kitlu, and has fallen asleep to an episode from the BBC Earth series almost every night for over two years (it’s just something about David Attenborough). Find her poetry at MEOW.