Things Impossible to Swallow • poems by Pamela Garvey • number 24 in the 2River Chapbook Series • 2River
In the Light Provided by the Baltimore News
Outside wind sifted snow to the ground,
half burying whatever was dropped—
bottles, receipts, photo of a boy and a woman
hugging a dog. Inside
dull lighting in the bar barely defined
his unshaven cheek, rusty hair.
He spoke almost in a whisper, brushed by the hum
of garbled talk—all couples or small groups huddled
in conversations. He told me
about local bars: which had bands on weekends, which
had ladies’ nights. I’d only been in town
a few weeks. I’d hardly begun to work again.
In those days I drank vodka, neat,
tried to learn new languages in preparation
for some big move, something important I couldn’t
quite name, so I made up stories
about a Brazil that didn’t exist,
a job as a correspondent, as if the man cared.
In one of those blanks in time
we came back to my place. No longer hunched
over a round cocktail table, gesturing with a cigarette,
but leaning over my bed, TV news
providing the only light and a perky blonde
reporting that a white male, thirty-two, killed
his wife and son, Don—that was his name, that
is what he told me, or
what I remember—Don, in his whiskey voice, asked me
if I ever thought about killing anyone,
my face in his hands, his mouth moving over mine.