Coming home, your back is thick
with strain, your arms holding you just
together. You shower, wiping off the dirt
and the phantom itch, then spread
yourself like an unleavened loaf across
the red futon. Lovemaking is gentle, quiet, punctuated
by apologies: Sorry this. Sorry that. I am not
enough, is what you mean.

And I am not enough
either—my shoulders curled
like a drying flower, senses scratching
so quickly from stress to heat
to calm fear.

Mice have entered the house, our current
house, for the winter
and you have waged war. Without joy,
you construct traps and snares, pause
for the snap in the middle of the night—
waking to a tiny body
cut cleanly in half.

We could say we are unhappy.
We do, on the drawn-out Sunday nights
when darkness slides
through the glass doors. Under the covers
we are warm, tightly wound,
waiting.

 

This piece first appeared in the Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2014.

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