taking stock

posted in: Poem | 0

last year, the lebanese
palm reader pictured domestic
peace, a single union, in our separate,
unscarred hands. now, godless
and short on faith, i recall the howl
of sirens four years previous, when our packed
u-haul accelerated downhill
from a gas station in crook county,
wyoming. neither of us was sure
about moving cross-country but you were
less sure than me. when the two cops
arrested you for a suspended license
i managed not to scream.

we had to get to san francisco
for your interview, so i forced an absurd smile
when the lead cop said, we don’t take
triple A bail bonds, travelers checks
or credit cards. today’s saturday. if she can’t
post bail, we’ll haul you 200 miles
to sundance and let them sort it out on Monday

at the corner store, in line for the cashier,
i remembered how the clerks in mansfield,
massachusetts would stare
or ignore me, the crazy
woman’s daughter. for a self left
to the goodwill of strangers,
i felt a welling of disdain.
still, i sucked that dusty air
down to my diaphragm and said
my husband’s in jail–will you cash these in?

“Taking Stock” was first published in Clackamas Literary Review.

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