She and me on the L Train

12 Apr


Not only am I too privileged to be her,

I am too privileged to crudely diagnose her symptoms;

my expertise tells me: “drugs.”

Ashen skin, the subway lurch,

40 people pretending not to watch her,

pretending not to pity her.

She has these little stickers on her chest with metal in the middle

Like I had when I got an echocardiogram

The boyfriend tugs the zipper of her hoodie up to cover them.

Her head lolls, she burrows into his chest,

he clutches her purse closer to himself,

his face a palette of fear, worry, culpability,

and the spaces in the middle where the paints mix together.


Cheese Plate

5 Apr

I am hot shit

on this airplane

ordering a cheese plate on my Delta Skymiles Platinum credit card,

and the girl across the aisle who asked me whether they give out free headphones

and is on her way home from her high school band trip to the Big Apple

is watching me and my

three slices of cheese, eight perfect grapes, one individually wrapped chocolate square,

and this is probably a formative moment for her,

she will probably remember this moment when she’s choosing her major in a few years and think:

“what would the woman with the cheese plate do?”


4 Apr

I sat on the center of the bed, a lilypad in the monochrome bedroom that had become my everything, and he looked up at me or maybe he was sitting kind of behind me, I can’t remember, and he said “you’re such a treasure,” and I felt like I had been kicked in the gut, because I knew, and I knew he probably knew, it was going to be over so soon.

June 6, 1976

1 Apr

Didn’t they already feel outdated?

The powder blue suits with the bellbottom legs,

my mother’s long, straight, Cher hair.

From my seat in the future, it’s impossible to think

they couldn’t see at least a glimmer of our today then.

Painting white puffy clouds on the walls of the nursery,

laughter, magic shows, tumors, the babies who couldn’t hold on,

or that one day they’d have two grandsons; their three girls all grown up.

Because when I look at you, it’s so clear:

a future so vivid it’s like it’s already a memory.


Our apartment

10 Apr

It’s just us, and sometimes

it smells like fish. The kitchen is so small

that when we cook, our butts touch.

We take our pants off at the door, wonder

if everyone in love does that. We can’t

grow plants, but our tchotchke shelf is a vision.

No place has ever felt so much like my space.

Your voice, guitar, piano, fills all the gaps.


9 Apr

We drew arbitrary boundaries: I could

pour out the plastic urinal bottles, but not

dump his dumps out of the commode, plop,

into the toilet, flush. And sex was another story,

neither of us wanted much at all, imagine

the chemo-semen, coursing gleeful, evil. And

we’d go out to dinner, pretend to be normal,

I’d wheel him push him uphill on 84th street,

the hostess fluttering around us, hospitality,

pity, forgetting which was which.


7 Apr

Not thinking much about my actions

for fear of fear, for fear of wasted time.

I’m a child who reaches up, unthinking,

slipping hand into hand of a stranger where he expected a mother to be.

How can I be stagnant but spiraling at the same time?

How can thinking make doing so much harder?

How can it be that the thought

of looking back with laughter later

brings no solace at all,

no relief?