Joan Stuart Ross  © 2005 All Rights Reserved

First

I have to die first, you say. When we met
we called in sick, ate in bed, let dishes and dust
collect. Blossoms confettied out-
side. We were like foals, newly testing

our skeletal limbs. I have to die first,
you say, the woman who stopped eating
when the dog died, as though feeling
your flesh wasnít yours, or didnít exist

anymore. So you think Iím the strong
one, the one who can stand being left.
Me, the one who, alone in the house, dusts
the furniture, the remainders of our long

departed skin. The one who wipes the ghost
of our fingerprints from the mirror, who
washes our scent from the sheets, who
rinses the spoon that touched the moist-

ness of your tongue. When we were in bed
last night we imagined how weíd go. Our
favorite: Iím 100, youíre 104.
Our hearts stop, just stop, gently, you said,

in our sleep. At exactly the same moment.
But we know there are likelier fates.
I have to die first, you say. And itís late,
itís late. Weíre drifting off, even as you say it.

Kate Evans
Copyright © 2005

 

Kate Evansípoetry, fiction and essays have appeared in North American Review, Seattle Review, Cream City Review, Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly and others. She has recently completed a collection of stories, Flirting with Rosie, and a novel, For the May Queen. She teaches creative writing at San Jose State University. http://www.kateevans.blogspot.com


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