That winter split me
like firewood. I was smaller,
splintered, Elliott Smith would play
on cassette in my blue Volkswagen
while our breath coursed
through flared nostrils and damaged lungs.
I hid my pain like a sick dog. I slinked
out, under the back deck,
I swallowed some pills.
In those hideous places
I can still smell the acrid, peaty heat
of your breath, reeking like remorse.
But even though you swore that you left
I still caught you shoplifting.
Greedily, you shoved
every broken piece of me
into your pockets.
The more you took, the more
I couldn’t help but remember you
feeding our cats, their tails licking
around your ankles like muted flames.
And now I’m jealous of people
I don’t know. I want to be that stranger
sitting across from you on the subway.
I want to claim the dust you leave behind.