we are expected to imagine
these movie boys living on in wrecked Germany.
I came in late on this
and find the whole thing strange.
Her lungs wreck her when she pulls up
on the dock. The sanitarium’s in snow.
All the money is gone.
Men are splitting heads in the streets,
wrecking cars, shooting to kill.
If he kills him in a cathedral
how can no one know? If she walks
to watch him goodbye,
she’ll die from her bone.
Two ghosts walk with two men
out of the next war
and into the heat. Let’s get drunk,
let’s smoke. We’re America
just up from the trenches,
skidooing into schools and ranging cars
dragging ourselves slowly in,
burning our way out.
The history of all times, and of today especially, teaches
that . . . women will be forgotten
if they forget to think about themselves.
So who cares if you don’t have another ride to the grocery store
or if he’s still keeping your dog that you really love
but can’t have in this apartment and who loves his yard
or if he’s been such a good friend for so long
and besides doesn’t want anything from you
and you’re probably the only really good influence in his life?
If you’re hanging out with the same guy
who put his hands around your neck
and a pillow over your nose and mouth
and even if it was only that one time,
who exactly is thinking about you—besides me
and I’m rolling my cart quick down a different aisle
unable to say anything nice, and certainly not willing to smile.
Laura Lee Washburn, author of This Good Warm Place (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize), has published poems in such journals as 9th Letter, Carolina Quarterly, Harbor Review, Poet Lore, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.