We hid in one room, pouring white wine
and hating our neighbors. I could hold
a soldier’s stare like a bouquet, and held bouquets
like books. I turned the radio off and you turned,
told me no, let it play. You smoked incessantly,
taught me how to smack a pack on my palm, that
little trick with the match. It’s your fault
I wake up some nights, even tonight, with the taste
in my mouth, remembering all that smoke
and ash, and feeling the feeling
of something missing.
When you asked, I said probably I would
have kept buying my bread and cheese, worn
nylons, read fashion magazines. And not have
known, or known and not have cared, or cared
but not have been willing. Though would want
to have thrown leaflets from balconies
of universities. Obviously. You dreamt me
hanged and how death ripped my face
like a map. From your pillow you said
you longed to give up on words entirely.
We could not hide forever, or for long. If
it had been back then, you would have spent
many days growing a beard and sweating,
sweeping floors and bleeding. And I would have
spent my days growing older and swearing,
sweeping floors and bleeding. Which we did
anyhow. You left the country. I’ve gone and
changed my name. It felt like forever but
when the lease was up, we were over.
Stephanie McConnell is from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Worcester Review, The Paterson Literary Review, the Under Review, The Ponder Review, River Heron Review, BarBar, The Dewdrop, and Hare's Paw Literary Journal. She now lives in New England, but still only writes about Pennsylvania.