by Caroline Richards
I see a paper bag packed-in between
the shelving cracks of our
cupboards, hapless container of
croissant crumbs and cacao—
half-baked and half-hearted—
from the veins of yellow Nestle bags.
Something lost and wet, left crumpled
in cardboard amid boxes of
and baking soda,
or the stacked vertebrae of spices
then deemed done-in.
I see sunflower seeds sleeping in the
corridors of our kitchen
linoleum countertops covered in misplaced
substances: cocktail mixers, Coco Puffs, and
the cheap coke you thought you could keep
in our shitty blender.
The lone lipstick cap tucked
under the stove,
the mysterious orange film coating
on the microwave plate,
the super-glue in the gutters
I see dust just about everywhere,
hair everywhere else.
Dog hair, hair in the drain,
in the defeated egg-shell
and entrenched in the dryer.
Hair you hated more than my cooking.
Hair in the hairbrush you threw
on the chalked sidewalk
as a gift, you said,
for the love-bird’s spring nest,
even though you claimed
you hated that motherfucking bird.
I see you deserting it there,
wearing your work boots.
You tracked their bottomless mud over
the browned four-leaf clovers we
shook loose from between book
spines and onto the fake wooden
My thumb brushed briefly against the luck
cradled in those rotting caves before
you threw them in the dumpster
outside the ice rink.
The hockey team lost every game.
I see shoes and duvet covers banished
to the porch-steps where you
sat, when everything was
somewhere in a box;
my heart in a box, covered in tissue paper.
You stood on those steps
and wrapped it yourself,
still in your work boots.
Like I was the real work.
And all the wasted tape you flung to the
ground binding that heart-box was
the job you loathed.
It covered the dead grass and stuck
to the tips of your fingers.
Which only made you angrier,
how that house held us
the way wounds hold onto scabs.
But this wound won’t close.
Open bay windows and stormy sea waves
we saw from the porch,
broken porch swings you
promised to fix,
unfixable fights we fought on
searing bare skin behind the shower
curtain upstairs some Sundays.
Your callused hands.
When someone says love I see your work
boots, smashing green glass bottles
in the white-shell driveway,
So loud that I ran.