A woman runs up as we exit the coffee shop.
She’s wearing a black sleeveless dress
and a cross-body briefcase, and could pass
for an office worker if not for her bare feet.
She is crying. She wants to know if we know
where Georgia the state office of Georgia is.
When we say no, she zigzags to a security guard
coming onto his shift, asks him where is Georgia
the state office of Georgia. She doesn’t wait
for an answer, but careens down the wide
and mostly empty sidewalk. The security guard
watches her go, as if considering whether
to call someone, but she turns the corner
onto 5th Avenue, where a man who would later
be president said he could shoot someone
in the street and his followers wouldn’t care.
We turn the same corner, see the woman
lurch past a man pushing a broom.
He barely looks up, just keeps sweeping.
She pings from person to person, pleading
for an answer to her question. The last
we see of her, she’s darting across the street,
heading west, and the day carries on
the way the country does, one thing
sweeping the next thing away.
Laundry After Loss
The worst thing is the gaping red hole no one can see,
not even me. I keep looking down, expecting a crater
the size of a dinner plate in the center of my chest.
The worst thing is that my heart keeps pumping
blood anyway. I’ve willed it to stop, or at least
slow down, but it won’t. Blood soaks my shirt,
makes the fabric stick so there can be no healing.
I have to keep changing my clothes. All I ever do
is laundry anymore. When the wash cycle’s done,
I don’t look. I just shove everything in the dryer,
set it to run for the maximum time. The worst thing
is when the dryer bell dings. Then I know
I have to fold the clothes. Then I have to see
how every shirt comes out perfectly clean.
Brett Warren is the author of The Map of Unseen Things (Pine Row Press, 2023). She is a long-time editor whose poetry has appeared in Canary, The Comstock Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, Harbor Review, Hole in the Head Review, and many other publications. She lives in Massachusetts, in a house is surrounded by pitch pine and black oak trees—nighttime roosts of wild turkeys, who sometimes use the roof of her writing attic as a runway. brettwarrenpoetry.com