Match Box Girl                                                                         by Sarah E. Azizi

Light from a match makes a candle feel more romantic.
                    Lost art: collecting ornamented boxes from high 
                    end restaurants & hotels, plus cheap books 
                    from gas stations. I had drawers full of them 

for special occasions & just in case, but inevitably circa past 
                    2am, someone (like me) would be so drunk 
                    they’d light their cigarette on the gas 
                    stove, burn off some hair. How tinged 

that smell is in memory w/ joy & frivolity, youth & worries 
		that loomed like vultures, but from this middle 
		perch, I know they were shadow puppets at best.
		The boxes I’d saved for prized moments that never 

arrived—they all disappeared, got lost in one move or another,
		which means I probably tossed them in a fit 
		of self-recrimination about how much stuff I let 
		accumulate, while neglecting to note that each tiny 

carton held an intimate memory of its collection. I’ve got so much wreckage 
                 behind me—lovers, spats, splits, violence (domestic), 
                 divorce. Cops at the door, my tear-stained head 
                 shaking w/ I didn’t call them. Teetering toward 

poverty w/ a little kid whose legs hurt from chemo, the two of us
		in a three-story walk-up. Memory crunches like burnt hair, 
		useless, clinging, sticky. My mind’s a junk drawer. 
		What can I salvage now? I sit in the solitude I worked 

so hard to create & wonder if I’ve got one great love left in me. 
		Is this, finally, what it means to be human—to fail 
		so deeply you spend years in terror & therapy working 
		thru what he did to you only to crave that same tight ring 

around you again? Connect, connect, pushes some voice, but
		every dynamic, I end up feeling trapped in an airless 
                  attic, like I’ve got to protect my spirit from being snuffed. 
                  I don’t do well w/ monogamy, I tell my therapist in a voice 

so confident, I ignore that I’m putting the onus on me, once again, 
                 & not the tawdry system. Every love affair, I pound like a mime 
                 against imaginary walls, then wrench free to declare 
                 autonomy, & after this many times down the path, I know: 

the problem is me. It would be wrong to knowingly entangle 
		again, wouldn’t I be engaging in trickery, creating 
		the kind of enclosure I fear, while secretly 
		palming a skeleton key? All I seem to do is lay

elaborate traps, & prove I can escape. Still. How many days & years 
		are we supposed to promise? Why isn’t I love you right 
		now cradled like a precious creature? I had a short-lived 
		romance w/ a writer from the heartland, how different 

she was from east coast me. We were marooned in the desert 
		of New Mexico, throwing ourselves upon the judgment 
		of a motley grad department. I read recently her novel 
		got published—the one she was working on 20 years ago. 

It’s full of her usual tropes, & w/ my particularized lens I can note 
		which grew brilliant & which got tired, but I can 
                  re-direct the same bright light & illuminate my flaws 
		& gaps, too. Eventually everyone bores me;

my inner world’s so rich. It’s a brightly-wrapped gift, this realm 
                  inside; it’s a burden, I suppose. And yet. 
                  A hungry flame endures, tickles at the veins 
                 of my tied-up heart & begs for one more 

great love—it’ll be the last I ask for. Feed me the death I most crave. 
		Let the flicker of me be extinguished in their gaze. 
		Bring me a lover who’ll light my cigarette w/ a match. 
		I’ll inhale smoke laced w/ sulfur & sink into the magic—
Strike. This time will be different.

Sarah E. Azizi (aka Sera Miles) is a queer Iranian-American writer, educator, & activist. Previous & forthcoming publications include $pread Magazine, Phoebe: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Feminist Scholarship, 34th Parallel, Blue Mesa Review, Fahmidan Journal, Clean Sheets, red, The Tide Rises, HELD, Wrongdoing Magazine, the winnow, Superpresent, Nine Mile, and Free State Review. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico w/ her daughter & amongst friends & family of choice.

Guest Editor Shibazrule, aka Lisa D. Chavez, is a poet based in New Mexico.  Her poetry books include Destruction Bay (West End Press) and In An Angry Season. (University of Arizona Press). She also writes memoir and fiction, and teaches in the MFA program at the University of New Mexico.  She’s delighted to have the opportunity to be Guest Editor here at The Coop for the month of August.


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