Haley Campbell

You Said I Want

you said I want
to want what you want

you want this quiver-toothed
sugar-sick ache, gifts unopened before a birthday,
before learning everything underneath the paper
isn’t beautiful. I want to want

 what you want I want
three years to simmer in Texas heat a thousand
five hundred miles from your cologne I want
pause buttons sewn to the seams of my dresses
want every night to whisper you, want
strangers bleaching you out of my body

I want to want your hands tumbling toward my flesh
your hands hovering over
a child’s round head I want not
the child, not the humming order
of my mind in such sharp discord with your
kickdrum neurons, want you suited
salaried stable
stale, want to want you here
now whole and unvarnished

I want
to want
the asphalt lot

the place you touched me last


the two of us sustained in that same
sugared ache, and wanting
for nothing


Field of Malachite

Today you come home to find
your lover in pieces: a thigh

limp in the front hall, one foot
balanced precariously on the sink,

shoulders poking out behind the couch,
hands nowhere to be seen. You collect

everything you can, draw your lover together
with what gentleness you have to spare.

You’re used to this by now. Outside
the sky gloams green, quiet and troubling.

You find your lover’s hair and smooth it down,
adjust a scapula and offer reassurance

that reeds and riverbanks are temporary, tangible
only as long as the sky keeps a color

or bodies keep souls. In the morning,
on the pillow, you find your lover’s hands.



we can talk about
pain all you want

we can address
my body filled with

pins, or sharp slivers
of glass (picked up

where? The kitchen floor?
Did someone

drop a jar before I moved,
leaving me

a few skittered pieces
on the tile?)
                   we can talk

about mothers, about
wombs, barriers of blood

however you conceive
the soul, what ferries hurt

from body to body across
generations, electric

arcs searing from brain
to brain
              we can talk

about inheritance,
which is to press

responsibility into
another’s body

and expecting other limbs
to bear its weight



Haley Campbell is a writer and editor living in Austin, Texas. She received her BA in English from the University of Mary Washington and writes about bodies, chronic pain, queerness and love. You can find her on Twitter @haley_exe or at haleycampbell.net. These are her first published pieces.