Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2017  Vol. 16 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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How to Remember

His drug-blurred
shuffle, the lop-
sided weight
on your bed’s edge,
the fuzzed chatter
of sleep deprivation,
but not how he wakes you
Let’s say
a shake of the shoulder,
soft tap of your pet name
[redacted] . . . wake up . . .
but not the ragged lurch
from bedroom to study,
not how his crooked
sleep-needs spun in-
to sickly weight of skin,
slick smell of sleeping
pill sweat, slices of
streetlight sifting through
blinds, zebra-striping
your head shaking
back and
forth, mouth
around no
against his
do it


now dark
I said
now light
now dark
now dark
now [ black box obscuring text ]
The hushed crack
of will giving
way, the distant
buzzing under-
standing: this
is how it happens,
this is how we
fold, the moment
you origami
resolve into a tiny
paper [redacted] of
just get through this
Then his smug grunt
of satisfaction,
the greedy sucking
of leather peeling off
damp skin, but not
[his spent excuses]
before his slack-lidded
shuffle back to
the desert of his bed
Let’s say
it was I love
hell, let’s say


thank you
say wrapped around
the tremors your
bones have become,
say you managed to
hold them together
before you retched
into the sink
watched your [spine]
the drain  

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