by Staci R. Schoenfeld
ATTEMPTS AT FLIGHT
Sex is like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books
I loved as a child only with bad choices.
You kiss your date.
Her hands sweep your hair back She cups
your chin, raising it so that your lips are level
with hers and you a/ start to move away
from your body, just a little, or b/ you jerk
away, mumble an apology. Awkward silence.
Let’s say I go with choice A.
Already, I am mid-flight.
So I tell myself to stay, that this is not that, remind myself
of where I am. Touch something real. The back of the
perhaps. Feel how the fabric is soft and textured and here.
Return to the moment, a bird back to the wire,
feathers askew. Resettle.
You go back to kissing.
And for a while it’s good. I touch the couch
when I feel flighty. It reminds me of what’s real. I don’t
look out the window. The robins won’t help. They know what to do.
How to do it. And by looking, I am leaving. So, in the moment,
But now she’s tugging off your shirt,
hands cupping your breasts, and for a moment
everything is good and your mind and body
are aligned, but then her hand travels down
your belly and you a/ push her hand away
I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry
because how do you explain or you
b/ allow her to continue, steel yourself.
And even though the words steel yourself have no place in lovemaking
or sex or even fucking, I choose B because the birds outside are flying
and I want to fly, oh how I want to fly, and so I touch the couch,
I touch her, I try to hold on because if I let go I will fall.
I touch the couch, memorize the bumps of the fabric, remind
myself why I am here and that this is supposed to be good.
I am good.
This moment with the woman and the couch and the birds
is good. And I know that birds don’t steel themselves to fly,
they just lift, and I want to lift.
But I am tethered
to this body that remembers, so I steel myself
because I somehow still have hope, and I take control
for a while because sometimes it’s easier to help someone fly
than to fly myself, so I make sure that she flies and flies and flies.
And then she wants me to fly, and I have to choose again:
a/ you answer
no, honey, I’m fine or b/ you go for it,
even though you know it won’t happen,
that you won’t achieve flight,
that you will curl up tighter in your mind
until you can’t do it anymore,
and I say the word
I was never allowed to say when I was an infant, a toddler, a child, a teen:
I say stop.
Staci R. Schoenfeld is an MFA candidate in poetry at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL, and a poetry editor at Revolution House. In 2010, she was awarded an Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and recently was a featured reader at the Holler Poets Series in Lexington, KY, and the Rivertown Reading Series in Paducah, KY. Her poems appear in or are forthcoming from Accents Publishing’s Bigger Than They Appear: Anthology of Very Short Poems, Appalachian Heritage, Still, The Chaffey Review, and other fine journals.