I’ll Leave Smudges There, Too

It began when I left
a tampon in the bathroom trash bin
didn’t stuff it to the bottom
fill the top layer of her hair matted to his with tissue
that I hadn’t dared sneeze into
as I used to when I visited their home
knowing that he’d claim I helped him clean while she was at work.
She and I intrude in concentric circles
stealing the right to throw away napkins
in the same places he does
white vinegar lip stains overlap in the same space
if not the same moment
there used to be no lines like these in my palm
until I hid a single strand of my hair
wet corn can lids and shriveled tea bags
the crushed spices textured like mud
I used to build into transitory castles
since there wasn’t much sand near the river where I grew up
sauerkraut worms slid over my fingers
as I shoved runaway nail peelings
I’d nervously picked off in a jar
still unheard wanting
self-particles to remain in their house.
It was pleasant feeling interiors
that she avoids
asking him
to take out the trash
more importantly avoiding spots where flavors and bacteria grow
when she stood over the trash can and I stared at that jar
silently urging it to keep quiet about concealing me
hoping she wouldn’t sigh at him
because I’d washed the dishes earlier
That time I learned that even though she’s an environmental activist she doesn’t recycle
“It won’t stop what’s in motion already,
with the amount of energy the process requires,”
she informed me.
“I’m even using coffee filters again because I got tired of cleaning
the old machine between percolations.”
She made eye contact
rather than following my gaze to the jar in the trash
I knew she knew
that it killed me
that I didn’t care enough to stop
at least I spiral-swirled
Windex smudges where I pretended
to clean the baseboard
left my fingerprints in dust
instead projectile squid stains soaking
the coffee maker cookbook table
I tried to pull the a dishtowel out from under his coffee cup
without blurring the mug bottom’s ring stain
acceptable because it was his thumb grip
on the cup his caffeinated saliva
bleeding through the cloth beneath
but I’m not that quick at sliding dishtowels
never had a magic kit as a kid
and the mug toppled over
I was delighted to see that no force
of scrubbing could lighten the table
after I stained it.
The floor tiles encased in a protective glaze
I have not yet managed to penetrate unfortunately.
But with the right household chemicals from under his sink
just the right timing when I exist
in the same room
in a moment when she doesn’t
I’ll do it.
I’ll leave smudges there, too.
Now I want to spray between our concentric circles
like a tomcat dampens
our coordinated separateness
into all the soft, thrown-out cardboard
avoid salvaging it intact
for someone else to reuse
let it moisten in a dumpster
with the imprints of my hands carrying it
storage boxes I’ve stomped into garbage
so my memories collapse
with hers exhausted interred inside
taken outside the house to fertilize damp weedy spaces
where raccoons gorge themselves
and the thistles stickle she and I alike
only unique in the ways we cry out
over the time we don’t get enough
and have had more than enough already.


© Sally Deskins

© Sally Deskins


Jenny Irizary grew up in a cabin in the woods along Northern California’s Russian River, the only Puerto Rican for miles. Her work has been published in Label Me Latin, Atticus Review, Duende, Snapping Twig, Tipton Poetry Journal, Communion, The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review, and other journals

Sally Deskins is an artist and writer focusing on perspectives of women including her own. She’s been published internationally and exhibited nationally and has curated several exhibitions and books.


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