ConditioningWhat do you want to do after you graduate? I watch my father hold his steak knife, ready to plunge his fork into his over-cooked meat. Just the way he likes it. My shoulders lift slightly; even if I had a plan they would still twitch, like a Pavlovian condition, as the front door opens and the winter breeze finds its way to our table.
Rushing home from Filene's, an area unfamiliar yet I know the way. Holding my husband's waist on our bicycle. Samantha? Our daughter's name echoes up a desolate staircase. Have you seen my daughter? The neighbor's girl smiles. Her clothes are laid out, she must be alive. I turn, surprised, a woman standing with a barrel to my chest. An officer kills her before she shoots. I found your daughter, the neighbor says, opening a storage closet, a wall splattered with blood beyond its door. I refuse to look. Your husband is with her.
We run across campus, a group of men followling closely behind, sneak into a dorm, descending its never-ending staircase. We hide in a wall, cramped, fidgeting; knocking into the wall to reveal a secret hallway. No one is seen, yet lights illuminate rows of dorm rooms. That's funny, my partner says, This building burned down in the 70s. Sweat beats on my forehead as I burst through a window, run
ArtistryI was a blank canvas on an easel,
I watched you mix colors on your pallet:
Jacket over my skin, feet in black pumps,
Ears in long, dangling hoops.
Sparkling eyes so I could watch you
dip your brush into the paints
and trace the outline of my lips.
You excite me when you stand and stare,
like you want me to drive you wild,
but you return determined
with a paintbrush twirled in your fingers.
You slim my hips, lengthen my hair,
add color to my cheeks, weight to my chest.
My skirt hiked up to show off my thighs,
but I cannot argue. You wouldn't hear.
When the sun sets you lay down your paints,
retreat to your single bedroom
beside the kitchen that holds one plate,
one fork, one glass to drink from.
When the sun rises I am shred to pieces,
watching from the wastebasket
as you mix colors and lift your brush.