Self Portrait in the Glare of Motion Detector Lights

Tony Trigilio

Lisa muffled our grunts by playing
her favorite album, hair-metal
band Helix’s No Rest for the Wicked,

the turntable tonearm on repeat.
The music kept her family away.
We were clumsy little halogen

twigs glowing from strange bodies. 
Lisa wanted to torch hers.

She pushed me out of her just

after we started. Jumped from bed.
Turned off Helix. Put on her clothes.
Then she ran to the pond behind

the high school to cut her wrists.
I didn’t know she owned a knife.
Couldn’t see what we were growing

into, took for granted fathers pull
their girls by choke-hold into the house
when you drop them off past curfew.

Or mothers grow thinner by the day,
veins blue through translucent skin,
cords of their necks open wide like pincers.

This life ate her from the inside.
She took away her daughter’s knife.
A sticky August night, two weeks later,

Lisa and I facing each other in her front
yard, the motion detector lights her father
installed on the porch so bright the grass 

 

blades were sheathed in white steel.
She kept slapping my face, daring me
to hit her back. Our friends Greg and Mark

looked out from their car, engine idling.
The two of them angular, twitchy,
waiting for Lisa and me to finish.

 

Headshot of Tony Trigilio

Tony Trigilio’s most recent poetry collections are Proof Something Happened (Marsh Hawk Press, forthcoming 2021) and Ghosts of the Upper Floor (BlazeVOX [books], 2019). His selected poems, Fuera del Taller del Cosmos, was published in 2018 by Guatemala’s Editorial Poe (translated by Bony Hernández). He is a Professor of Creative Writing/Poetry at Columbia College Chicago.