National Poetry Month: Day 12. “An Excursion” by Mary Biddinger

By

An Excursion

I wrote your name backwards
on my hand until it hurt.

You dropped a cube of cheese
into the crystal punch bowl.

At first we didn’t realize these
activities were connected.

The only way to cleanse a hand
is through something bright

red and seething. I defined for
you: seething. It’s a mouth

where a mouth should never be.
In that way my neck owes

its sun and moon to the table
that shielded us. Not so

vulnerable at the first instance
of thunder, comparatively.

Some nights we just slammed
ourselves against all doors

in the hotel, screaming our love
is better than your love.

Nothing could be more true,
even if those polyester

desk clerks made us scrub all
our sticky ellipses off

the linoleum. We were not shy
at the continental breakfast

the next day, overflowing soda
glasses and heaping eggs

onto each other’s plates. Who
was that whispering into

the hot sauce, complaining
about the broken ice

machine? And how we took
the whole thing out

with one slam from my back?
The cubes had no desire

for marginalia anyway, so it
should be a contribution.

Thank goodness the elevator
had been inspected yearly.

Mary Biddinger

Mary Biddinger is the author of Prairie Fever (Steel Toe Books, 2007) and the chapbook Saint Monica (forthcoming, Black Lawrence Press). She edits the Akron Series in Poetry, and co-edits Barn Owl Review and the Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics. She teaches at the University of Akron and directs the NEOMFA.


From time to time, The Rumpus publishes new poems. Check out this multimedia collection of poetry we've published. More from this author →