Residues and Aftertastes
by Anastasia Nikolis Anastasia Nikolis

Anastasia Nikolis holds a BA from Haverford College and will be starting work toward a PhD in Literature and Visual Culture at the University of Rochester. She currently works as the Managing Editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies. Her first chapbook will be published by Aquillrelle Press in summer 2012.

We lie in the dust of those who came before us.
Filmy skins of past people's selves
roll in the sheets and sneak
kisses from our lips pursed tight
like balloon mouths
with the airings-out of past lives inside.

Pushing them away, we press
the breath from each other.
Prod fallow emotion into whispers
from my chest wheezing with age not yet carved on my skin—
but within, withered and dried like thyme
hung in bundles and snapped into pieces
by your fingers. You gather
my limbs in your hands and lay
my dried legs, hips, and head,
into the depression of your mortar bed, worn
by past methodical pestlings.

With each press
my respirations powder
and fall in blankets.
They are the stuff of the ghosts
of the women who season your sheets still.
I will linger there too.
The tincture of our time together
making enough salve for only some of our wounds,
my poulticed self spread thinly on you.

The rest is a dusky residue
with the faint flavor of where I was grown.
It motes in the air when we rise each morning
and go to bed each night.
The best spices taste of the places they come from,
those places you long to go. You cling
to me because of the bloom
of my lost love that licks your palate to sleep.

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