I KNEW IT WAS OVERwhen tonight you couldn’t make the phone ringwhen you used to make the sun risewhen trees used to throw themselvesin front of youto be paper for love lettersthat was how i knew i had to do itswaddle the kids we never hadagainst january’s cold slicebundle them in winterclothes they never neededso i could drop them off at my mom’seven though she lives on the other side of the countryand at this late west coast hour isassuredly east coast sleepingpeacefullyher house was lit like a candlethe way homes should bewarm and goldenand homeand the kids ran inand jumped at the bichon frisenamed luckythat she never hadthey hugged the dogit wriggledand the kids were happyyours and minethe ones we never hadand my mom wasgrand maternal, which is to say, with stylethat only comes when you’ve seenenough to know gracelike when to pretend it’s christmas ora birthday soshe lit her voice with tinylights and pretendedshe didn’t see me cryingas i drove awayto the hotel connected to the barwhere i ordered the cheapest whisky they hadjust because it shares your first namebecause they don’t make a whiskycalled babyand i only thought what i gotwas whati orderedi toasted the hangoverinevitable as sunthat used to risein your namei toasted the carnivalswe never went toand the things you never wonfor methe ferris wheels we neverkissed on and all the dreamsbetween usthat sat therelike balloons on a carney’s boardwaiting to explode with passionbut slowly deflatedhung slaveunder the pin-prick of a tackhungheads downlike loverswhen it doesn’twork, like meat last callafter too many cheaptoo many sweettoo muchwhisky makes mesick, like the smell of cheap,like the smell ofthe deadlike the cheap, dead flowersyou never sentthat i never threwout of the windowof a cari neverreallyowned
― Daphne Gottlieb,
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