“Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Kelli Allen

Wherever you go, there you are

-“Where I lay my head is home.” –L. Ulrich and J. Hetfield

He allowed the slick glass bottle to slip inside, felt the gin burn his tongue, and swallowed.

“Such a good boy,” she cooed.

C licked an arch blooming sweat under his nose, “What’s happening?”

The creature coiled inward against the pillow of her spine. Miss G silently gave the quieting mass within her a small blessing, a meant purr pushing past her lips through the final six syllables.

“Ssshhhh,” she exhaled. “Take another pull, C. Just like that.”

He tried to memorize the fire blooming his throat raw—keep track of how long it took to lick his lips clean around.

Miss G walked two long fingers from his nipple to the steer-head brass buckle posting guard above a zipper that strained, teeth nearly leaving an imprint in the salty air.

“We don’t wait long and this night has been long enough, too long. It’s time to begin.” She hummed as nail tips skirted cotton.

A third set of eyes began to blink in the wet dark. Their lashes extended outward to tickle Miss G’s lungs, retracted again, and the unwinding started slow.

“I have known you through every life I have lived,” Miss G said, her mouth moving fast, her hand paused beneath the belt now undone.

C caught her wrist in his own warm palm and felt the room open wide. He watched her tongue  dart around her teeth. He heard the other sounds past his breathing, past her words. He heard the first crashing waves against his skimmer when he was a boy. He tasted brine and ash and raw meat.

Miss G focused her expression, twisted the thin wrist free, and spit brackish foam in a thin line into the space between her own open jaw and C’s memory-dazed face. The slick formed first a bridge, and then a roping necklace connecting her neck to his.

***

Through any much distance, they looked like drunk lovers, arms guarding the other’s waist, heads tilted close with temples touching as they stumbled in an uneven pace from the dune’s peak and down toward the darkening water.

From far away, anyone might guess that Miss G was suddenly overcome with lust, with urgent need to be held, pressed rough into the millions of crushed shells under their feet. She slipped C’s encircling arm and pulled him with her into the kelp dotting the cool evening sand. From a passing glance, they were locked in a kiss, tongues certainly hard at work in convincing the bodies to go further, take more.

Miss G’s skin lay in a deflated mound near the shore’s crocked edge.

The creature eases the soft spiral into its new home. First, lowering its tail into C’s expanding throat, it unwinds down past the pliable chest to fill C’s belly, two pincers extending toward the round ball joints of his shoulder. A nice fit, a comfortable fit.

Soon, the tide will lap its long tongue over this shell, this beast with too many hearts.

Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US and internationally. She has served as Poetry Editor for The Lindenwood Review and she directs River Styx’s Hungry Young Poets Series. She is currently a visiting professor of English Literature at Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China. She is the recipient of the 2018 Magpie Award for Poetry. Her chapbook, Some Animals, won the 2016 Etchings Press Prize. Her chapbook, How We Disappear, won the 2016 Damfino Press award. Her full-length poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, arrived from John Gosslee Books (2012) and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her collection, Imagine Not Drowning, was released by C&R Press in January 2017. Allen’s new collection, Banjo’s Inside Coyote, arrived from C&R Press March, 2019. www.kelli-allen.com