“The Ridges” by Bethany Francis

your curls grow over my fingernails
like ivy on this old building
the foundation is crumbing
you’re fumbling to restore life
into this haunted asylum
reeking with the stagnant smell of
the contrast is unmistakable:
lush, growing,
lusting after something breakable
dust from prior explosions mark
her story
while he tries to make
spreading over
forgotten bedrooms, playrooms,
and frequented kitchens
while the walls are unable to talk
through laced vines twisting
the past and the present
a leaf opens like lips
and drinks a communion of confessions
he’s buying her stories like cheap concessions
selling intimacy for immediacy
and common sense for consent
but she shrinks,
and “shrinkage” doesn’t cover the rent
he tries again
reaching out for any sensation
a dusty bulb flickers uncertainly,
and the floor groans when you come in
paint layers stripped off
by a menagerie of men,
spiritual parasites and whores
who visit now and again
but none stay too long
for the walls are too thin
the house surrenders to gravity
for rather than expansion,
decay and depravity
tend to rule this mansion
cannot fill the holes with caulk
to make a stronger frame
will smother any outsider
who makes this his chief aim
it’s a monument in town
to frequent and admire
they wait for it to resurrect
or set itself on fire
Read Bethany’s previously featured work, “I Don’t Give Two Sheets Anymore,” here

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