On Mouths by Nicole Oquendo

On Mouths

I. 

All my friends want to fuck me, she said. It’s exhausting. She broke open a pen and poured the ink into her water bottle’s cap. I watched her poke a needle into the pooling blue, and then into her leg, and back again until we both saw the word BITE, while we sweated from the heat of a room full of candles in Florida summer, and I longed to tell her what, exactly. That I kept a lock of her purple hair sealed in wax inside my notebook, maybe. She added the outlines of two blue drops of blood.

The next week, I told her boyfriend she cheated on him on a cruise ship, with two men at the same time, and we all stopped speaking. 

II.

To be loved, that’s the thing. I let the pill, stamped with a heart, linger on my tongue. Turpentine, the smell and taste, and then it was on. I sobbed for hours, and screamed more! whenever I saw lights blow past, again and again. Later, we added more pills to the mix, and I watched us all from the ceiling until it was too dark to breathe. 

Kiss her, a friend yelled, while the partygoers formed a circle around my body, and one friend in particular raised his lips to my lips, an ache, and then nothing. I woke up later at another club, and it was him sprawled across the floor, drool leaking from his open mouth.

III. 

My group got high at that one opulent house party, the weekend after my boyfriend passed me the note in 3rd period telling me to get my chakras aligned, to be ready for sex. He was at that party too, shining bright just like every other time he took up space in a room, and shuffled down on the carpet next to me. Give me head, he asked, and I did. And he asked again the next morning when we woke up. I cried soft that afternoon, and he held my hand. I think I know what I did wrong, he said, but that was the last on that. 

IV. 

Oh, your jaw pops like mine, she said as she scooted her desk closer to mine. She always smelled like that Take Me Away, and I’d think of us walking on a beach, together, while our professor lectured. That day, she showed me pictures of her x-rays, where you could see where the surgeon wedged six pins to hold her jaw in a straight alignment, and then her face post-surgery, bandaged and discolored. It’s the same surgery you need, she said, and I looked back and forth from her smile to her bruises, and wiggled my own jaw, set in my face at a 45-degree angle. It popped and popped. 

It hurts to bite

I know.

V. 

That girl I met at the Target, sixteen, so much older, so much smoking. She laughed while I watched her long legs dangle, aching to touch her knees. She leaned against a post in the shipping area and put on red lipstick outside the lines of her lips. 

I bled so much, she’d told me, so much it was all over the walls. How the fuck. He had laughed and kept on. 

VI.

I had pressed my lips together and blew, blew so hard and so long that I’d leave myself gasping for air. What magic, then, when I realized the tongue had some say, wet those same lips, and learned the right position for noise. 

Nicole Oquendo is a writer and visual artist that combines these elements, along with magical practice, to craft multimodal nonfiction, poetry, and fiction, as well as translations of these forms. Their work can be found in numerous literary journals, a hybrid memoir, and six chapbooks, including their most recent works: Space Baby: Episodes I-III and The Antichrist and I

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