Alex Chertok: Overheard at the airport

For years I swear – I thought for years
a wishy-washy person had just
come out of a pool – someone in
a bathing suit – a girl with water
sliding off her hair and down
her back – years before I learned
the sad – the truth – it didn’t – it didn’t
shine in the sun on pool steps – it’s
almost as bad as the doggy-dog world
my mom lived in for most of her life
till her boss had to pull her aside – can you
believe – thirty years of not getting
caught – or this – the first time I heard them
I swore crickets lived inside – 
were rubbing my body dry – up from their graves to
scratch the chalkbones – scratch my bones
like chalk – but how could I know – how
could I sleep over the sound – I couldn’t
even yawn, you ever? – for a while I couldn’t
fill my lungs with air – a full yawn was
a miracle to me – when I’d finally fall
asleep – I don’t know why I’m telling – but
a woman dressed like a nurse would climb
out of a pool – over and over – those were the
good dreams – were reason enough for the struggle
in bed – her long wet legs – her wishy-washy body.


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