Meek and in the corner,
she was the only one sober enough
to hear me say I was going
to the corner gas station for smokes.
She sidled up to me
and put on her coat, insisting.
I shrugged rippled with tequila
and recklessness and walked out the door.
In front of the house on the return,
we had silent folded arms under stars,
hers long and thin like bird wings tucked
under, mine lost in a coat too big.
She had something to say, I could sense,
but not enough gumption to start so
I began speaking of the fragilities of new love
and old thin strangulations by men,
hers physical and mine always mental.
She recalled her year in a domestic
abuse shelter, hiding with her daughter
and had I not been drunk already, I would
have cried for how lucky I had been
to just be lonely and isolated for years.
We spoke of single motherhood,
of making the grade in unsure times—
divorces and mental institutions looming
and the two of us strangers but together here
always grasping our insecurities with both hands.
They are driven in by false men’s hearts.
They are patted down by the unknowing.
They are looked over by family, the embarrassment
too much for any of them and we swallow
pride on a daily basis, pour secrets into
the night on streets of cities we don’t know
just to somehow get by another day
with a smile pasted to our faces.
And when my cigarette is finished
and our breaths twine in the chill of the night
there is a pause, some understanding
sealed with a nod before rejoining the others
who did not notice our leaving.
Aleathia Drehmer 2009
Published by Leaf Garden Press 3/10