Glass Poetry Press

Volume Two Issue Two

Sheila Black


I wake up and put my hand to the cool plaster as if the wall could breathe the way I did the years we lived together in the three room tenement, summers the air so thick I grew afraid to suck it in or to wake you with my hammered breath. I touched the walls with my hands; I touched the walls as if I could become like them — dense with secret pock holes, tunnels, the plaster half-alive — midnight, 3:00 a.m., the days your anger swelled the rooms like blue damp, a flaking off your skin until I invented errands — the onions from the Greek market, the newspapers we could not live without, a volume of Ronsard from the Book Forum. I invented errands and stayed away as long as I could. What did I do those hours not at work? Sundays walking across the empty campus, those marble stairs where I could sit and smoke, and watch the striped silk trees flail in unseasonable winds, the park by the river where a woman built a kind of black boat of garbage cans and plastic bags, peering out from the flaps of her dirty fake fur cap with a sudden violent and animal cunning. But night came and I went, always, home to you only to wake afraid again, to place my palms one by one against the walls, as if I were Atlas, the rutted surface imprinting itself on my skin.