Things Impossible to Swallow • poems by Pamela Garvey • number 24 in the 2River Chapbook Series2River

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.