Meeting Death in a Dive Bar, in Three Acts by Dana Kinsey
cw: suicide consideration
Smashing a cigarette to soot, Death peers
at Merlot & me. Unusually affable, eager
to make small talk bigger, he slides to my side
of the booth. Unprepared for seduction I rise,
remind myself why I came, GPS begging
I recalculate. Winehouse wails
from the jukebox, stronger than me. We dance
a thick pathetic sway, desire smothered.
I pry myself from his wooden chest, confess
I wrote the note. He grins. Knows. My palm
betrays my wrist, opens its offering.
His ice steals my spine.
Many times before, I refused to wrap my flesh
onto his bones, fold over the paper-doll tabs
hand-to-hip, meld into the silence
dazzling eternity. I ran from his grasp
but he chased me hard through ballet studios
over stage bridges and dark churches
classrooms where students called me Miss
cradles where my babies stirred in sleep.
He tackled me near Avalon, pinioned me in waves
of guilt & regret that slammed me to my knees
lured me to kitchen counters covered in dough
I coaxed from autumn leaves. I rose.
Friends held me with a litany wound taut
about my chest, tattooed words where they belonged
only to me. They paraded banners through my veins,
shiny trumpets and high-hat marching bands. I woke
to my cheek on the checkered floor, drums and neon
matching the beat. Their words raised Braille
under my skin. I stood to snap my clutch,
smooth my dress. Met Death’s eyes behind the smoke.
Then the exit and jukebox flashed farewell, a rush
of sound. Nina Simone, Feeling Good. I bellowed
and launched, threw myself in and the sun
was waiting right outside.
Dana Kinsey is a writer, actor, and teacher published in Writers Resist, One Art, Broadkill Review, Fledgling Rag, Silver Needle Press, Porcupine Literary, Sledgehammer Lit, West Trestle Review, Prose Online, and Teaching Theatre. Dana's play, WaterRise, was produced at the Gene Frankel Theatre. Visit wordsbyDK.com or tweet @wordsbyDK.