Lauren Clark

Ladies Grove

A stranger is standing on my porch, looking into
my window. Hello? I call. I swing my hips down

from my bicycle. In the double shade of evening
and roof, a stranger turns to face me, then takes

my front steps in two bounds. He grabs my head
by my hair and kisses me with his whole face. What

the fuck, I want to say, but I gave away my mouth.
Then the robins swoop out from their nest above

the door, a nest they have slowly rebuilt all Spring,
and fly low over our heads. A stranger’s mouth is

on my mouth, his hands are on my mouth. I keep
my eyes open. I judge the air by robins. His mouth

is on my wrist, my watch, the face. Now is the time
to take mental notes, robins—about his stature, his

weight, his wire-rimmed glasses, his sandy hair,
his hollow skeleton pressing against my hips. But

in the wooden incandescence of the police station
an hour later, Officer Strawberry does not ask

about a stranger. He does not ask to see the bites
blooming across my joints. He leans over his desk

—pictures of lovely tripartite family, coffee mug
of pens, criminals’ dental records—and calls

my encounter ecstatic, almost Bacchic, in a voice
as hushed and gentle as if he could scare it away

by speaking too loudly, like a bird from a window
—a male robin, the pretty kind, the kind with a

breast deeper red than can be natural. I throb. I
see stars. I lean in, whisper: Red sky by night, sailor

Lauren Clark earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Ninth Letter, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and PANK, among other journals. She works at Poets House in New York City.