Figure Studies: Three Poems After Salvadore Dali: City of Drawers

Honey,
your fingers felt for the edge
and pried open the drawers of my body —
warped, soap-scented oak —
to feel the lace of my underwear,
to bite the buttons of my skirts.
You licked my pearls;
you studied my family recipes and asked
who cooked the red velvet cake, and
do I remember the taste.
You were the termite in the floorboards
of an antebellum hotel.

Fat, hollowed thing,
you laid on your back
and opened up so easily.
Fresh cedar chest
carrying your birth certificate
and the limbs of ex-lovers
wet with sawdust.
(I took a bracelet from one chewed wrist
when I thought you weren’t looking … )

Honey,
I know you’ll keep my trinkets
hidden for women to find.
You’ll crawl through streets
dressed in my journal entries
and then shed that skin behind buildings.
You’re just waiting to bury
my grandmother’s wedding ring
in the stinking dirt of your balcony.

Nissa Lee’s poetry has appeared in Wicked Alice, Breadcrumb Scabs, and Mannequin Envy. She studies creative writing in the MFA program at Rutgers University in Camden.

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