The Fire We Spin Around by Cathy Allman

You were young, and after three Jacks 
he said he loved you.
He touched you awake in places you didn’t know.

Decades later, the same man after three Jacks 
tells you everything wrong 
with life is because of you.

You can’t sleep, and he won’t remember.  
You hear his irregular breathing,
replay the weeks of his chemo.

An owl calls from a tree.
The clock on the nightstand
ticks on, like years.

The next-door neighbor has Alzheimer’s. 
The caretakers flame her floodlight all night long.
That fluorescence slices between the bottom

of your pulled-down shades and the sill.
The house that holds the body of the woman 
whose mind has left has stumps of fallen trees.

Poison ivy intermingles with English along 
the overgrown border of ground cover.
Her damaged windows need to be replaced.

The pane fog looks like frost-crusted glass.
The quiet between her house and yours is so loud 
you wonder what the silence wants to say.

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