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The Legend of Quintana Roo

Shirley Stephenson

My bungalow is thatched and crooked.
Once, I found a tarantula in my underwear.
I found a man in my bed.
        They call me Señor Amor, he said.
I don't want love sonnets, I warned.
        His mouth fell.
But your ankle is like a rose.

For hours, a rooster gabbled outside my window.
When I drew the curtains,
I saw a child crying.

* *

Border patrols stopped us between bonfires.
The woman with hair like lava leaned across the seat
and spoke quickly—
        I see how you praise the single place setting
        and clean sheets but glass shatters
        in the night and you are water.

She ran her nail across my palm
and licked her lips.
        You'll have everything
        and then you'll have nothing.
        Except parasites.

* *

He brought me candles, berries and fleas.
He brought me scented soap.
        Look, he said. Something rough
        is buried inside because I know
        how you love
        to slough yourself away.

His tongue ended up in certain
        high places
because I imagined
the colors of our skin together.

* *

Why not stay a while
where everything grows larger
than you'd think it could?

Glands like coconuts,
ants heaving coins and one can only guess
at the rest.

Thrash and holler.

The lagoon's changed colors
seven times already.
The jungle lends itself.

* *

I found her smoking
in a hammock.
        Love is like an egg, she said. Tuck it away
        or it cracks and runs.

Let it, I said. Everyone wants
to fill themselves. Next time,
I'll remember there's something unpleasant
about fullness.
Next time, I'll take something prophylactically.

        Don't draw circles at your toes, she said.
        Think of your lonely blue bowl at midnight,
        the killing power of honey.

She touched my hair and ash covered our feet.

Shirley Stephenson

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