Attention Deficit

Katy Lederer

Focus for
us was a thing hard to
come by. We would have to make due with
whatever

we had: these
were pills and a pencil,
blue earplugs to block out the voices
inside of

our heads, which
would tell us time passed and
these thoughts that would shine like soft lights on
our brains would

one day fade
into invisible
relief. We would write in our binders,
pass classes,

allow for
a moment of grief. We
were deeply aware we would have to
make up for

lost time, but
when we took our pills, the
world would seem fine, seem as if it had
always been

fine. Once we
had adequate supplies
we’d sell, but until then we decid-
ed to re-

fill. We had
determined that we would
not brood. Instead we charted out our
moods and light-

ened up our
loads. Before the rest of
time unfolds, we would like to hold on-
to this life,

feel like it’s
beating, there, deep inside
of our chests, not out of fear. We are
just children.
 

More by Katy Lederer

Love

After Duras
"We go back to our house. We are lovers. 
We cannot stop loving each other."

I come to confiscate your love. 
What will you do?

Small shrubs grow in the blackened yard.
Sun, which is yellow, shines in through the windows, now barred.

You were watching me eat. 
Put your tongue in my mouth then retract it.

We were waiting for our recompense.
But everyone knows love is bankrupt.

On the billboard in front of us: breasts.
The empty middles of the mannequins that peered out through the glass. 

Reprehensibly, I mouthed the words: I love you.

Mass Effect

Pushed together, pulled apart, we were purported pluripotent.
We developed as an organ, a benign and beating heart.

We sought physicians for histology. Discovered spinal symmetry.
Within the sacred bowl of life, our innards spilled in red array.

I wondered what you'd have to say if in your mouth you grew a tongue.
I wondered what I'd have to say if in my head I grew a mouth.

Instead we moved into a house, connected by a modem.
A surgical removal could have cured us of our malady.

But seeking to remain benign, we discoursed through telepathy.
How long could we have lived like this?

With our then-rudimentary eyes we saw shapes coming toward us:
amorphous and black, shedding tears. We had nothing to say.

Market Day

It was the market day
and I had rented a stile
by which I could number my patrons;
and a tree, so that I could plant something
living by my selling stand;
and a hefty snatch of my favorite black cloth
so that I could mimic mourning
and people might think that my husband had died
(which he had not).

But knowing that patrons
offered more money to women in black,
I pretended as such and left some of the coins
buried after I had packed up my stand.
I supposed that burying them
might make up for my pretending.
I had also to uproot the tree
and then take it back to my brother-in-law,
so there was already a great gaping hole in the ground.