“Taste of Cherry” Kara Candito

1. There is no way to tell this story.

How she said come with me
and you did, you followed her into the bed
of a stolen truck, into that bar
where you shot the bartender

and made everyone watch while you kissed her
hard and pulled the wilted orchids from her hair.
Threw them to the bloodstained floor.
How you wanted something

dark and dramatic. Chamber music
at the circus. And she was so lovely, sharpening her knife,
shifting from one foot to the other
in the glare of headlights.

How her breath was close and hot
against your ear and you learned to stitch a love scene
from the shredded night.

2. Maybe you should start with the boring part.

Before the chase scene, before
Bonnie and Bonnie dropped acid and swallowed their tongues,
before they fell into deep, inexplicable
fucked-up love,

you were cutting yourself on the bathroom floor,
crying in front of the mirror because the tears felt more real
when you watched them fall into the sink
where the jagged hairs

your father shaved from his face the night before
made a halo around the drain. You were dreaming of stilettos
and fast cars, a shove-me-hard-up-against-the-wall
kind of love. You were not dreaming

of undressing in the back of a truck halfway to Baja
with a warm beer between your legs and her hair, the best kind
of blindfold, wrapped like night
around your eyes.

3. Every story takes a wrong turn.

Those donuts you did, laughing in the parking lot
of the police station, the blood that stained your shirt no matter
how hard you scrubbed. How you said
the wrong things over and over

until she hated you. Maybe you shouldn’t have broken
a bottle over that guy’s head. You always tried to turn the smallest
gestures into a lesson, like that that time you wore
the I love my pussy shirt to church.

Maybe you should have never touched her. Grinned
and sat on your hands that day in the planetarium under Ursa Minor.
But, you wanted a love like an air raid,
all sirens and red explosions.

In the morning, the charred remains of everything
that came before. You wanted more scenes in which death is narrowly
averted and everyone dances naked in the rain,
their bodies no longer afterthoughts.

4. It began like every sweet, false myth.

There was a pop song on the jukebox. A broken bottle
on the bar. The stars were arranged in rows, like obedient
children, girls. Pressed up against her,
you felt safe and warm.

And you knew what would happen next. The snake
ready to strike, the bullet finding a body. Night.
The taste of cherry.
This is the astral plane,

this is the spirit world, she says and draws
a heart on the dirt floor with her finger.

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