Poetry: AFTER LEARNING OF THE AFFAIR, I DOWN TWO BOTTLES OF CHARDONNAY AND GIVE AN IMPROMPTU PERFORMANCE OF BEYONCÉ’S “DON’T HURT YOURSELF” by Imani Davis
In “After Learning of the Affair,” we learn of the speaker’s deep hurt following the betrayal of a lover; what follows is exquisite line after line of their delicate yet fierce suffering.
AFTER LEARNING OF THE AFFAIR, I DOWN TWO BOTTLES OF CHARDONNAY AND GIVE AN IMPROMPTU PERFORMANCE OF BEYONCÉ’S “DON’T HURT YOURSELF”
“We must become undisciplined.”
i mean i guess it could be god
or whatever, this whiny
voice luring me back to sanity.
whoever it is, i’m not listening.
this not my first rodeo. this time,
though, it’s my hooves flirting
with the edge of carnal. my reckless,
tender back. come on. i can’t be
the first bitch to gallop
this bluntly across
a breakup track.
if there is a time to be
leashless, my god, it has
finally arrived. my key
to her apartment pressing
its useless signature into
my palm. without warning,
i relate to every lyric
that hisses when touched.
my mother says you have
never truly sung
until a heavenly heaviness
pushes out the music.
how agony is useful
if it can make us urgent.
i guess some lessons in speed
draw breath. eat breakfast. can open
a door & quit belonging
to me whenever they please.
it’s an easy history. a girl
offers to hurt me well & i give
her two years of my sun
-drenched hands in return.
how to articulate the uneven
arcs of desire? to let youth deliver
its single, lonely lesson:
all the things i can be
i don’t want to
think too hard about it,
so i won’t. whose gruesome theater
is this anyway? i think it belongs
to whatever growls behind
my eyes at the mention of her
name. bey & i toss our rings
at the screen, cast our good,
feral furs to the ground like
expired love spells. yes, i can
barely trust the sunrise anymore,
but for now, i trust this.
the sharpened howl prowling
through my blood, waiting to wake.
waiting to claw any back ever turned.
Imani Davis is a queer Black writer from Brooklyn. A Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, they’ve earned fellowships from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Lambda Literary, BOAAT Press, and the Stadler Center for Poetry. They completed their B.A. in English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and they’re currently pursuing a Ph.D. in American Studies at Harvard. Imani’s poetry appears with Best New Poets 2020, Best of the Net, PBS News Hour’s Brief But Spectacular Series, Poetry Daily, Brooklyn Poets, Shade Literary Arts, The Offing, and elsewhere. For more, visit imani-davis.com.