After He’s Decided to Leave
When the bottle of hot sauce shattered in the kitchen
he stood in the doorframe, shook his head at the mess.
Not worried if I was injured,
mostly curious at what else it was I’d broken.
You are so clumsy with the things you hold,
he never said.
The red stain on my chest bloomed pungent,
soaked any apology.
I used his shirt, the one I slept in,
to wipe the counter and pale-colored kitchen floor.
That night and the next for a straight week
as he prepared boxes to leave
I hunched and scrubbed the tiles. Couldn’t rid myself
of the things that I’d sullied, of the look he left behind.
Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Acevedo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 4, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.