stephen de jesús frías

Untitled Text

stephen de jesús frías is a Dominican-American writer & photographer from New York City. He recently completed an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. This is the first time his work has been published. You can find more about him at:

The Other Side of Midnight

Scars pink & fleshy like lips
so I would kiss them.
I was like a bird with a seed in its beak;
the scars, shaped like almonds,
became the only things that accepted my mouth.

Your skin like ground coffee beans &
your touch like powder blown in the wind.
The heat would cut away at our clothes;
exposed shoulders & thighs,
my skin like the dirt between your toes.

The barbed wire fences between our houses
would cut into our arms & legs & back,
no matter if you went under or over
you got caught & I got caught
& that's how we got to this place.

There was something there, in the patches of life
between the stitching of the sun & moon.
The world of our fleshy basins;
we devoured each other
like descendants of thunder & lightning & earth.

You would wash my back & I would scrub your feet;
the blood mixing with dirt.
Then we would eat coconut from a neighbor's yard;
the shells course like the hair on our pelvises.
That was then & I don't know how much of you is left.

I remember Sunday mornings
when we would climb the tree in your yard, before falling, before the scars,
& I’m a child again; a child again before then & now
with your false lips & my beak & my tongue reaching like a flower,
I find myself rearranging furniture in a burning building

& I could smell your skin. 
There's a word at the end of my tongue like a broken promise
& when I think of you your eyes are closed,
not as if sleeping but like you were in the middle of a blink.
Some nights I test myself to see if I still remember your number;

I throw away my quarters & have a staring contest
with the moon until one of us loses.
I think of plantain lilies.
I hear someone say that their hosta will be coming up soon,
I imagine I hear that your hospice will be calling soon.

I think of breakfast back on the island,
how after the first scar we went inside
& your mother made us mangú.
As she pressed & mashed the
cooked pieces of plantain with butter & milk.

I couldn't help but think of you, of us,
pressed together like a stamp or an envelope.
When I left I told you I would write;
I did, with my broken Spanish & all.
I would send you the comic books I drew.

In them I was always the hero.
In them I would save you from the burning building.
In them I spoke perfect Spanish.
In them your eyes were open & deep.
In them I color in our scars.

Some nights I turn on all the lights
in my house & walk out far enough
to still see it in the distance, but enough to miss back home.
It's like I'm out at sea on a boat searching for the lighthouse.
I imagine that I can find my way back to the island,

or that somehow I would find you in the living room
soaking wet & wrapped in my towel.
Sometimes I have nightmares that I find you
in the living room soaking wet & wrapped in my towel
& you call me just another bird & I wake up drowning in tears.

© The Acentos Review 2014