We used to cut right down to the dirty undies,
joke about old farmers and moaning sheep,
bitch out empires through television screens
like we had omnipotent voice boxes
that could blow Vanna White’s dress off.
When we gave a beating to the lug head who
slugged your mother, we swore each other
to secrecy, with spit and blood. We didn’t put up
fronts when we got dumped, failed history class,
get embarrassed about my father’s drinking,
your sister never eating. It was all there for us,
open and pink, crust and love. We even
talked about fucking each other once,
drunk on beer and huffing shoe cleaner.
You cupped my breast like you were fishing
an earring out of the garbage disposal.
We decided it best to be what we were,
climbed into the back of your brother’s
pickup truck, laid shoulder to shoulder,
slept intoxicated and warm.
I picture her exhausted, drained, snoring
beside her snoring husband, breathless at times,
waking in fits in the dead of night
to wander the darker rooms,
leafing through a blue book of names
her mother left on the kitchen counter,
then groaning back up the hardwood stairs
for the last precious hours of rest
before the next day pushes her along,
before the bells of the 5:30 alarm,
before the cold air waiting to bite when she opens the shower curtain,
before the black drip coffee, before the blueberry yogurt,
before the kiss goodbye that doesn’t last long enough,
before the lone cough in the subway car,
before the frown of the security guard
who hands out plastic badges and points her toward the basement
where she stands beneath fluorescent lights,
signs her name, the day, the time, and admits aloud—I’m here,
I’m here. I need to see the doctor.