green apple tiles are leaving
a red check pattern on my calves,
on the sides of my thighs.
it’s two in the morning
and the smell of cleaning fluid
from when Deb cleaned the dorm
bathroom should have faded long ago,
but it’s still
fresh in my nostrils, and
fresh in my throat, and
fresh in the toilet basin, and
i’m a hundred and fifty miles away
and she can’t help me.
a white opaque grocery bag
is thanking her a hundred times
but the words are backwards from the inside.
it’s just after school
and she’s crouched on the floor
of her bedroom, with her father
in the dining room, and she’s
trying to stop breathing, but
she can’t. she lifts the bag
every few minutes and cold air comes in
and hot tears come out and
she’s a hundred and fifty miles away
and i can't help her.
but with our backs to the boardwalk,
looking out over the lake,
with the sun overhead, baking our backs,
gone are the apple-green tiles
and the white plastic bag.