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The House Mourns Alone at Midnight

By Maryse Meijer From Issue No. 4

You open your mouth in the mirror/and put on your lipstick/wipe it off your teeth/check your tampon/ curl your hair/chew a mint/pull down the skirt/that keeps skating up your thighs/he knocks/you turn off/all the lights /and leave without locking the door/

remember/post-divorce/ when all you ate was cereal/and Fritos/watching Netflix/for fourteen hours straight/ creaming on the phone /when he called/ and said/ he could not/ live without her/when you/punched the nails through the plaster/for the white Christmas lights/to hang on/the crooked photographs/cut from magazines/taped to that pink paint/I loved/we sang along to every sad song/on the radio/I hummed with all your machines/ coffee and the laundry/the way they make me shake/like you on the mattress when /you’ve had too much to drink/and a beautiful man is on the computer screen/and you want to come/

I keep your secrets/the dishes growing mold/the hundred dollar dress on the floor/ the unplugged bathtub breeding mosquitos/I keep the heat out, the rain, the sun/when it’s too much for you/and the medicine cabinet/can’t cure you of your blues/

will you dance tonight/will you let him/put his hips against yours/in the bar/and move your hair/nodding when you say/that the others treated you bad/but you hope he won’t/ and bat your eyes/and he’ll say no, no, never, I would never/but he’ll be lying/remember/when he didn’t show up/at the Olive Garden/and you ate eight breadsticks/leaned up against the hall wall/and wept in your stilettos/

anyway he doesn’t know/what I know/the way you look/checking your fat after a bath/ the sound your feet make/ skipping across the floor /at 1AM/ to get the steak from the fridge/and bring it back to bed/where you lay it against your thighs/something about the cold and the smell of it/it’s not something/a lot of humans do, is it/close their legs around beef/ I would never tell anyone/what you did/how you hated yourself afterward/and threw the meat/in the yard/for the dog/it’s our/secret/like the way the living room floor/dips/in the middle/you put the coffee table over it/told the neighbors/I was in “pristine vintage condition”/

I know I could be less/of a mess/but it’s not my fault/the faucet leaks and the sink/gurgles in the night/and the windows/ don’t shut all the way/if we had more money/we could have a Jacuzzi tub/ recessed lights/there’s still time/you could cash out/your 401k/or do the sweepstakes thing/

you didn’t run/a background check/or even/talk to his boss/are you sure/he isn’t/the green mile murderer/the one/who likes blondes/

are you sure/he won’t/drink and drive/like you do/ why can’t you meet/a nice Jewish boy/in A.A./

it’s late and the heat is off/the wind whistles in the street /anything could happen/ Miss Wilson’s house was robbed/last week and a family of raccoons/slipped beneath a window/ of Carl Loonigan’s bedroom/ and ate a lasagna/and peed all over the rug /what were you thinking/when you left the burner on/beneath the kettle/or don’t you think anymore/frankly/you looked like a prostitute/tonight/and your eyeliner/was all crooked/ and not even the hall light is on/and I’m afraid of the dark/and the dogs next door/and fires and foreclosure and ghosts and being alone/oh my darling my darling/ when are you coming/home

About Maryse Meijer More From Issue No. 4