Say alone. Forty times. Pair it with
the desert.
Say it. Alone. Alone. Alone.
Say the words plain, she says. Say it plain.
Say it outright. Alone. Don’t get poetic.
Say I. Say me. Say I am alone. Say your age,
she says. Thirty-six, I say. Say it, she says.
I am Thirty-six. Own it. I am alone. I am
. She says, tell me about the children.
Don’t use metaphor. I say blue eyes. It’s only
a guess. We have
– not we, she corrects – I
have blue eyes. It’s only a guess.
Tell me
about the children. There are hundreds, I say.
Punch myself in the stomach. Hundreds.
She says no, tell me about your children.
Tell you about the dead? No, she says,
no one died. Say it clear, she says. Stop
the poetry. I say the children in our – no,
my – future are hard marbles sunk to the
bottom of a fish tan
k. No! There is no fish
tank. There are no marbles. She is growing
irritable. I say there are no children. There.
I stop talking. She asks more questions.
I am mute. I am thinking of my sheets.
Thinking of my molding bathtub and how
much blood could fill it. I think of a poem
written by a friend about a tubful of teeth.
I think about teeth falling out of my face.
About my face opened by a bullet’s exit.
She asks what I am thinking about, I say
peanut butter. What about peanut butter?
I say I’m lying. She says why. I say there
are no children. Never
. I punch myself
in the stomach. She says stop or I will restrain
you. I dig my nails into the armrest. Don’t
damage the furniture, she says. I say peanut
. She says the session is over.
There is no she. It’s just a subway car and a
Tuesday morning where the fluorescent lights
are flickering so loud, it almost drowns
out the voices telling me that I will die
today. No one ever believes this story.