after Jeanann Verlee’s Helen Considers Leaving Troy
after a floral gin cocktail
Do I want to live and die my whole life here—
buried in county lines—or is it time
to stretch the map? There’s more
to plan than simply running away.
while holding my niece
Picking up the baby doesn’t help:
I smell her hair & wonder if she thinks
of me when I’m out of sight. Will she know?
Her eyes stare into the distance
along with mine. Maybe she travels
in her dreams. Maybe she lives
while eating dinner
Gorging myself on routine, I chew bread & think
about the bagels in New York. I live these sour-
dough rituals—oven baked in centuries
of families. A young tradition bound by water
on all sides. They say it’s in the water.
Doubtful, I gnaw on my nails.
when people ask if I’ll have kids
Come on, Karen—I just blew up
my life & you’re asking if I’m ready
to be a sacred vessel? The only answer
I can give is to flee far away
from anyone who had dreams
for me or thought I could be
marriage material. Go where
all folks care about is which street
I live above in the gridlocked graph
or whether I’m walking fast enough. Blend.
It would be easier than questions of barreness.
when my ex wants to get back together
from the freeway exit
Behind the wheel of my car, I carve trenches
again—circle and retrace my path—map
the small universe on foot, pace my cage.
Maybe I take to the night sky
or simply head east until I hit water.
Gorges and grooves heal, scarred
cutting board life. Do I keep driving?
Where do I even go from here?
These dreams that weren’t mine
festering in my wake. What city takes
such hazardous rot? How do I leave
my family behind? How
do I tell them I’m already gone?