then we were standing on the back step pointing out the stars:
see rigel, see betelgeuse, see sirius,
and all of them too bright, i said, vain and pompous and all at once.
look at the moon, you said, tilting my chin,
and how they pay her worship.
then i conceded and we went back inside and danced again
in her dark living room, the hall light falling abstract amongst us,
silhouetted moons in elliptic orbits, spinning
in the thrall of gravity,
but by these acute degrees we closed the vast gap.
suppose i did see something far out there—
some dim shining small star
to better illustrate my argument?
AFTER THEY LEFT
you seem surprised when my lips part.
you’ve never realised that lipstick is applied
with an open mouth, nor how softly it glides over flesh
like butter melting slowly; like spring turns into summer
and trees cast their pink blossoms from their branches;
like the pleasant hum of a church-goer on a sunday.
you hold the case, still hot and burning in your fingers,
each stroke uncertain as the sculptor first confronted with marble,
frightened that too much pressure will collapse everything.
she knows this is nothing
and you will not look at her,
eyes focused on the swell of my bottom lip,
the gradient of my skin.
you will not rest your hand
upon my cheek for balance
and i will not turn away.
this comes in different hues, the whole spectrum
of visible light to paint as synaesthetic delight.
subtle pink for you and i, almost peach
and the dark purple of not-quite sunrise for she and you
and for she and i—that remains to be seen
as you try to figure out cupid’s bow strung tight,
ready to say the wrong thing, to redirect
and tangle up these ends in lover’s knots.
is it merely fascination?
sight and touch and taste;
the three of us hanging on a loss
until the mysticism of the moment breaks.
you pull away, cap the lipstick and offer her a joint
to numb whatever sensation we cannot stand to take.
they are both leaving you but she and i remain
as lipstick stains round coffee mugs and cigarette butts
and all these strung out moments of regret.
AMY KINSMAN is a genderfluid poet and playwright from Manchester, England. As well as being the founding editor of Riggwelter Press, they are also associate editor of Three Drops From A Cauldron and the host of a regular open mic. Their work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in many journals including Bombus Press, Pidgeonholes, Red Queen Literary Magazine, Rust + Moth and Up The Staircase Quarterly.