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  • Vice

    you run your finger along the creases of your pressed pants
    they are sharp like knives
    your shirts
    so greedy
    smothered in sterile starch
    they bleed white
    and even a six-course meal would find no shame served up on your bathroom floor
    you buff the faucets with your elbow
    they open up their big brass mouths and mock you
    every stainless steel appliance lets your lofty face sparkle
    the minute you turn your back they whisper and snicker
    so you push my face into the pantry floor
    hold it down with the shoe that I buffed
    you drop the pointed blade that I will use to scrap your filth from the corners
    your cleanliness is your vice
    my cleaning won't give you purity
    when I am done I rip pages from a book of poetry
    I fold them into small squares and connect them at the ends with tight creases
    I cage all those bunched up words
    Ai's words
    your handiwork
    you read those poems out loud and sip brandy that I pour
    and after
    you claw at my skin with nails
    to clean me is to scald me in the sparkling tub
    I try to slide down the drain
    you yank at my hair to catch me
    I bleach the floor tiles naked before you go to bed
    your eyes stealing
    my eyes stinging
    your Louisville Slugger
    it sits in its cradle over the mantle
    so flawless and shiny
    a gift from someone famous I think
    he wore white
    I turn it over and over in my hands feeling the heaviness
    then I place it under our bed of fine, fresh sheets
    this is enough
    for now

    Pamela Wilonski
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