the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Susana H. Case


Standing over opposite sides of the bed
as if it were a boxing ring,
which it is not, most of the time,

we sort socks: black argyle
socks, red purple ruffled French
socks, fishnet sex socks. I must

toss the ones unpaired
or with holes for toes. Persistent toes
that feel like icicles curled against mine,

an encircling. If tonight is quiet
enough in my head, I shall hear both
our dogs wheezing, I shall hear our clocks

chime. I shall hear your breathing.
No sleep. Instead, I count each scratch
of your toenails against my legs

because you forgot to file them down again,
the accidental elbow in the face
in a too-small bed. Also, the number

of times you touched me gently that day
in all the so-sweet places. No sleep,
as I wonder who will break

the circle first. And if you do
— because so often the men go first —
what I shall write of you when you are gone.



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