Two poems by Devin Kelly
Today I thought another word for kissing
could be mouth stenciling. I was walking
down the cross street to buy paper towels,
something to clean my floors with. Today
I thought I might be too sentimental, always
wondering if rivers prefer wet dreams.
I say we all have grooves where water could
flow. Fingerprints. Skin channels. If you took
a graphite pencil to my face with your lips,
cross stitched your kiss onto my skin, used
a finger to mush the lines into shade, wouldn’t
you see how textured we are, what thin
rivers skate along our bodies? On my knees
cleaning the kitchen floor, thinking how do I ask
you to treat your touch like a paddleboat
along my face, riding downstream on beds
and tile floors, under street lamps and light
pollution. Love must be a travelling thing,
slow moving, giving us time to gaze at birds.
[After the Ice Cream]
The afternoon you left me
I picked up a nine-year-old girl
from school. A small job, I know.
Cash under the table. No taxes.
Most of that money spent
on the ice cream she piled into
cups, yearning always
for a flavor the store did not have.
The taxing, near miraculous feat
of walking slow enough
to compensate for all her stopping,
all her running-up-stoops
and pretending she scaled a mountain.
I read in a book long ago
that pain does not disappear
even after the hand is cut
from the body. Too many
sleepless nights thinking of
the nights you were sleeping elsewhere.
That afternoon I worried
for the pain of another, not having
the heart to tell her what happens
after the ice cream is gone.
And what is made of the hand
in the moments after amputation?
I hear it makes a fist.
Clenching onto an emptiness
even the body can feel,
the heart still pumping blood
toward a sealed vein.
Devin Kelly is an MFA student at Sarah Lawrence College, where he serves as the nonfiction editor of Lumina. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Dunes Review, Lines & Stars, Steel Toe Review, Cleaver Magazine, Passages North, Armchair/Shotgun, District Lit, and Big Truths. He teaches creative writing and English classes to 7th graders and high schoolers in Queens, and the occasional children’s poetry workshop at the New York Public Library in Harlem, where he currently lives. You can find him on Twitter @themoneyiowe.