If you think this is a poem, consider yourself warned.
The other day I dreamt a plane crashed
into the bed I stood beside.
You do not need to know I’ve been watching the window,
that this is what I do.
Pretend it’s ritual.
Pretend I never wrote to steal, did not feel the shock
of a good story clenched between my thighs
every time I tried to cover what you left.
I’m sorry I killed you off in that novel.
He wasn’t supposed to be you—just
a metaphor with your face, the spirit in the hall
outside the narrator’s door.
(I don’t know why every letter starts with a hiss
and ends with an apology.)
We were just kids pinky-‐swearing
clean blood tests and bus tickets.
If I could go back five years and delete
that moment where the wheels skid,
steer you off the course of hospitals, surgeries, scans
and setbacks your son is too young to understand,
I would, if only for your wife,
who tells us to keep you in our thoughts.
In the early morning when it’s still dark,
my heart is an empty telephone booth,
always some ghost humming on a passing radio.
I have been a thief but never a traitor.
Whatever it was I took, you can have it back.
When they take you off the ventilator,
light your cigarette on whatever you want.
I’ll close my eyes while you sweep the table clean.
Jess Cording’s work has appeared under several names in various print and online journals. She lives and works in New York City.