chiaroscuro By Nooshin Ghanbari

chiaroscuro

Dark and light, bad and good, are not different but one and the same. —Heraclitus

he says I’m going to burn
(but I’m the only one capable of
keeping up / matching wits
his words have begun to eat
me alive but I still want
so many things that are him
and not him / his sweet voice
crooked smile
(I shake at remembering the little pink
crescents carved into my palms where
my nails dug early graves
that spell out his name / icy fingers at
my back playing me like a broken violin)
I want him
to stop / to yield / he never does

on other days he says I’m his hero
(that makes everything worth it / right?)
eyes hazy from admiration or drink
number three / love is just as blurry
he tastes like home and bright bright light
(“god, your voice is beautiful” he says
and that is as much of a temptation as
fingers crocheted together / hand in hand
hand on shoulder / hand on back)

the two-step turns to five and I’m tripping
lips touching my neck and whispering
“you’re a really fast learner, babe”

he swears that every chorus is my name and
silly me / I believe him.

By Nooshin Ghanbari

Biography:

Nooshin Ghanbari is a third-year English major at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was recently awarded the 2016 Ellen Engler Burks Memorial Scholarship for Creative Writing. She currently serves as the assistant poetry editor of The Nocturnal Literary Review, the official journal of the university’s Plan II Honors program. Her poetry has previously appeared in Skylark Review.

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