Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

From Ampersand Revisited

From Ampersand Revisited
Photograph via Flickr by madampsychosis

             I thought no one would ever surpass Jillian, when she came
for two hours,

            inside our dorm room,

            describing it afterwards simply as, The universe fucked me.

            It seemed awfully generous of the universe, & I was surprised,
since I had assumed

            it could only climax inside a sonata, or a prime number
as long as your arm,

            that true ecstasy was the pleasurable depression
of a Vermeer.

            She didn’t touch herself once—just held relatively still on my bed
& screamed,

            while we watched from across the room

            in the dark, somewhat afraid.

            She said that when you take acid, you are instantly

            clinically insane,

            though really you have forty minutes

            before you see something unhealthy & stunning, like
a chromatic glimmer

            around your gaze.

            That night, she would also bloody her hand against concrete
because it felt so good,

            but that was just a special effect.

            This was serious. This required breath control.

            She was majoring in philosophy of music, & had just spent
all semester

            reading forty pages of Hegel

            with a professor who spoke so slowly

            we thought he had a very useful form of brain damage.

            When she played Chopin, it made a blue ruin inside my head,
& I wanted

            to breathe Here

            it is written at the end of every measure, even though it clearly

            That night, under full sail, she had to

            kick the trunk of a mimosa tree & bellow at it
out of some

            nameless need,

            so it seemed pointless every week

            for our theory class to erase the forehead of the sexless mannequin
that stood for

            the dear reader, you, & I,

            & to pretend that a formula writ small on a piece of blotter paper

            & a very large & unfocused idea

            couldn’t make a girl scream.