Postcards Left Unaddressed
(Pictured: the upstairs window beneath the broken curtain rod.)
In the backyard, fermented apples, so in the mornings sometimes
I wake up and the neighbor’s dog is stumbling just inside the perimeter.
(Fences don’t divide, they just outline.)
I collected them all in a paper bag
and now it’s all rot-bottomed-out, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that night
you slept in your own vomit in the middle of the living room.
It’s fall again. There’s mulled cider.
I have your sweatshirt when you get cold.
(Pictured: behind the empty fishbowl.)
Your mom called last week to ask how I was and if I had heard from you.
I told her, Seashells, so I think she thinks you’re at the beach
because it was too hard to explain I can hear you dying
if I press my ears against the apartment walls
like they say you can hear the sound of the ocean.
(Pictured: the stoop where you often smoked and carelessly tossed
your cigarette butts into the neighbors’ garden.)
The street flooded. Imagine the whole building out in the yard with pots
and buckets trying to collect, like we were thirsty. And plunging for the rose
bushes, like we could save the blooms, like they were holding their breath there
under the water just waiting for our desperate garden-gloved hands.
I want you to know I’m not expecting you to get better
and that I threw out the dried flowers. I couldn’t take them anymore
all upside down and hanging in the front closet and smelling
like something I already knew was coming.
(Pictured: the vanity table missing its mirror.)
I’ve been spending a lot of time at the gym since you left.
I’ve never really been much for numbers or for that macho
pissing-contest how-much-can-you-bench bullshit, but
I realized the other day that I could lift the whole of your body
and press it.
So this is just to tell you that I cried openly
and took the scale out of the women’s locker room
and threw it in the dumpster outside.
(Pictured: a shallow depression in the linens, your side of the bed.)
I went to dinner with a new woman last night. Her body was like driving
in a new city, a foreign grid.
When I made love to you I often thought of coloring books, of the dark
outlines of images, the shaded chambers of your ribs.
From my window I watch the switchboard lights alternate and disappear,
delicate circuitry, and you
wrap yourself in your old college sweatshirt against the night of another
grieving a quiet meteorology, like waiting for rain
and ask how high the water is this time of year, where we were.
Billie R. Tadros is a poet-scholar with research interests in feminist theory, gender and sexuality studies, and disability studies, who is currently working on a narrative research project exploring the gendered implications of traumatic injuries to self-identified women runners and seeking to articulate a feminist poetics of the injured female body. Find Billie at www.BillieRTadros.com and on Twitter at @BillieRTadros.