The Rest of It

Monday, the hive-hum din of morning traffic
is just the sound of work; by Wednesday, anger.
By Friday, it’s beaten through each
band of muscle, lodged in marrow;
it stuffs my clothes and finishes your sentences.
I dodder toward it on word legs,
sitting in a shiver of shadow, wedge
of chocolate cake two-thirds gone.
My appetite gorge-blind and absolute;
seam of want vibrant as thirst.

Across the freezing parking lot,
in that perfume-smelling building all Christmas-lit,
I have an appointment. Two skinny girls
in party makeup will titter
as they muss and streak and fluff my hair.
Even nauseated and running late,
I can’t decide to find a garbage can,
and when I do, I find, instead,
a wide mouthed pot. Poured concrete sibling—
but for the cigarette butts, waxed paper soda cup leaking black—
to the pots that flanked
my grandparent’s front door
overflowing with red geraniums.
Always red, every summer. Door to a house
they occupy now
only in my mind, as he is dead and she fed gruel
by strangers in the TV babel of a cinderblock room.
This pot, however, is meant for garbage,
which may be ironical, I’m not sure.
I toss the rest of the cake and don’t lean down to retrieve it,
though I could, on the way out. The plate, I mean,
with the last of the cake on it,
foil wrapper split like a chrysalis.

A native of New Jersey, Kimberly McClintock currently lives in Colorado with the writer David Wroblewski.