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.
About this Poem
“This poem was an attempt to use a very focused and domestic scene to consider the ambiguity and confusion in the aftermath of a breakup.”
Elizabeth Acevedo is author of Beastgirl and Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016), as well as the novels Clap When You Land (Quill Tree Books, 2020); With the Fire on High (Quill Tree Books, 2019); and THE POET X (HarperTeen, 2018), which won the 2018 National Book Award in Young People’s Literature. She holds a BA from George Washington University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion and lives in Washington, D.C.
Date Published: 2019-02-04
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/after-hes-decided-leave