The man I’m in love with has given me a collection of poems he’s written. Only two people have seen them. They’re in a manila envelope on my kitchen table. I crinkled and folded the paper parcel on the train ride home. They’re good. There are forty-nine poems. Twenty-nine are about women. Possible upwards of twenty-four women are noted in topics of screwing, or love and screwing, or love alone. Five names are given. There is only one unverifiable reference to me, obliquely made and also noting my failed career path.
“Let me help you edit it,” I offer. “You can’t edit yourself in,” he answers.
Still, he wants my red pen notes, ordering, culling, and consideration. So I drink peppermint tea and hover just above the back of his head like an invisible professor, nodding and pondering as he lives waxed pussies, chewed fingernails, other people’s anuses, the gallows, the twins. I calculate, consider, and carefully mark in the margins, “word choice,” “too many similes,” “brilliant,” and “so good, really.”
There’s a vice around my chest and as the month ends and moves into the next I wonder about the cubic inches of air I have left, the coming new year, fresh starts and the shit I’ll endure getting there.