it's getting late, he says.
do you want me to drop you off.
you watch farmland pass for
five minutes before saying anything.
you’re thinking about what you can do.
picturing the different rooms
in your apartment, what will be on tv.
(you couldn't just ask someone in for a drink,
after all that.)
you picture the silence in all those rooms,
waiting for you like a cat, curled up
on a chair, watching the door.
when he gets to the hill above your building
you tell him to stop, you'll walk down.
you slip on the wet grass and just lie there
a while, letting it soak into your jeans,
staring up at the false moon.
not knowing any better, tomorrow will be a day
like any other. you will consider fonts,
bite no more than three nails.
at lunch you’ll walk to the edge of town
for a sandwich, and eat on a bench in front of
a preschool, your back to the kids.
you’ll sit and watch the cars go by.
none of them are his.
there's keeping your body fed
and there's keeping it clean. (there's crumbs).
there's keeping a job. there's pets if you have any.
there's socks. there's trash day, and then there's
there's losing a job and there's
losing weight. there's losing your father.
there's losing your mother, though less abruptly,
over a few years. there's losing a bike,
forgetting you had one.
there's vitamins. there's cars. there's pens.
there's house plants.
there's losing a sock and there's losing sleep.
there's keeping track of time. there's keeping
control of your drinking. there's losing a bet.
there's losing your marbles. there's losing your lunch.
there's the rest.
we lived back then in a house of thieves.
only once in a long while did they let us out,
and we wasted all of it talking to each other.
(we had so much of each other already.)
we found whiskey as soon as we made it to the street.
(months in captivity can go by, and
still it doesn’t burn our throats.)
we got sloppy. we took our pills and remembered
to look for the things they’d stolen
from us, the books, the records, the photos,
ticket stubs and eyeliner pencils.
we wound up going slow, stooping down
every few feet, though the wind
tore terribly at our ears and i think gave me hepatitis.
we had hours of whispered arguments then.
i found myself saying things with my mouth
that my brain didn't think. i would have taken it back,
but i had so little to give those days,
it seemed the least i could do.
then some nights we heard them coming
through the walls, and held each other,
sure they would break in at any moment
and find what we’d been hiding,
and beat us for lying to them,
whom we said we loved.
now all of this is over and we are out,
free to work and own things again. but
i remember the scary nights. i haven’t been happier
katerina black is a dc native who has lived in tucson, amherst and nyc, but boston will do for now. she is a librarian by day and what she does at night is her own business, thanks.