I will start with what I know
I know that one can live longer without food than water
I know that thirst is a craving: milk, spit, gender, salt, vapor, blood
An imbalance, perceived or legitimate, between the need to sponge up the bottom of the soup bowl and the need to equalize interstitial liquid levels
An instinct that brings buffalo to this watering hole
Thirst is a motivational state
It motivates me to humiliate myself
Each empty bottle is illuminated by a string of white lights Each person perched on a barstool glows like a button
On TV the ticker reads 103 RAINLESS DAYS
A couple is exhibiting the final signs of extreme dehydration
My thirst blurs one side of the bar with the other
I black out on the fourth shot Flash of glass Flash of wheels
Then wake up in a bathtub full of white flowers
104 RAINLESS DAYS
I will start with what I know
I know that it is vital that the same level of solutes is present on either side of the cell membrane
I know that a cell will shrink in volume unless rubbed up against another cell
I know that without intimacy I feel shapeless
When the medical student brought a stethoscope I felt the cold metal on my chest
A river of goosebumps A dead lakebed
I felt my tongue turn to sandpaper unable to buff even four words together
I / I want
I know that many plant species have drought tolerance adaptations
I know that many others survive as buried seeds
Now I am with flowers planted on each of my pressure points
I am trying to replenish my osmolite concentrations
Drinking the blood of rattlesnakes in the desert
Transmission from Space Bar
i take my beer into the bathroom stall .
i want to fuck you with my tiny finger . in the haze
of a dark noon . you make my body feel like a body again .
instead of a pendulum of flesh . a light bulb
angled . an imposition . and again we are transported .
to the alien forest to gather berries . and you sit
on the roof of a boat . with
an entire beach inside . and there are trees
draped in glass beads . and what i mean to say is .
i have to believe . that
all this time travel will release us . like a rock
tumbler tumbles . sweet and ancient gems . and Dana .
i have to tell you . my first sweetheart
played analog piano . with such intensity . that had
nearly nothing to do with me . but didn’t have nothing
to do with me . and i remember that . Dana
i thought i wanted one part only . made decisive .
linear . and terrible and thought-out . because space
overwhelms me . but i am
considering plurality . and that you called my garden
human . and i’ve been thinking about getting old .
o Dana . there’s a drummer out there in a t-shirt . that says Listen
More . and there are so many antennae .
in this bathroom . i can’t
keep track . Dana . we are . aren’t we
so far from home
The light outside is like glue.
The cat chews on your shoelaces.
You wanted to give him a natural life
but here you are,
dragging your footprint
through the living room.
Living among humans
means someone is always walking over your head,
means someone always knows where to find you
and sometimes buzzes through.
Your cells brighten, remind
you to water a houseplant.
You think of your mom. Given the power
to choose, your mom still saw room
for the offspring of her offspring.
Every night before bed she said your name &
“Blessings unto you and your brethren.”
But you feel no rain.
At the New Years party you threw up
while your soul swayed in the streetlight moon,
stoned, soft as unrisen dough. You wanted
to take a stand against the government
but the coup took your knees out.
You have bagels and music algorithms,
you can pull on your shoes if you want
and go outside to look at the expensive houses.
You can die right here.
When your friends decided to wed
in front of the natural history museum’s
blue-footed boobies, the display sign read
These creatures defied the odds
for monogamy in birds
and you were a witness, useless as a root
in an era defined by uselessness,
which ate every tree,
which freed them.
Suzanne Highland is a queer poet and teacher from Florida currently living in Brooklyn. She has an MFA from Hunter College and has received support from the Sundress Academy for the Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, and Brooklyn Poets, where she was a fellow in 2018. Visit her at suzannehighland.com or on Twitter @emotingsweater.