December 16, 2010

December 16th: Leigh Stein


I finally have enough socks so that I only have
to do my laundry twice a month, the guy said,
on the plane, but still, does that mean
my girlfriend shouldn't have to call and wish
me a Happy Hanukkah? I said I wasn't Jewish
when he asked, but did I know about the candles?
Everyone knows about the candles, he said.
That's true, I said. All the towns
in the morning were below us, with
their snow-covered cul de sacs and
snow-covered hills for kings, their water
towers and windmills and kitchen
islands at which people fell out of love
every day, and even gas station parking
lots snow-colored before the first cars
arrived at dawn, the car wash lights bright
enough to make someone decide to live
through the holidays. My name's Seth,
the guy said. I'm a financial planner
and I'm not saying I make a ton of money,
but I make a ton of money. When Seth told me
his girlfriend was a dancer, it made me think of you,
how you asked me if I was a dancer, the first night
we met, back when I still had a chance to forget you, but
I think once I saw you pick that lock with my library card
I would have followed you anywhere. The necklace
I got her for Hanukkah? I'm getting ready for work
and I hear this crash and her go oh my God, and
what did she do? Dropped and broke it all over the floor.
Just clean it up before I get home, I told her, Seth said,
and I'll get you a new one. Honestly, I can't wear any
of the necklaces I have, because they were all given to me
by people I try not to call in the middle of the night.
Honestly, Seth, I never went to sleep yesterday
because I was trying to hold onto my youth.
There are lines around my eyes. No one else
can see them, but I know they're there
because I know myself the best. Guess what.
In the new year, I won't sleep ever. I'll become
younger. I'll never call you at 1am again.
I'll be eleven, I'll be twelve. I'll tape songs off the radio
and they'll all be about you, but I won't know that.
I won't know you or what you'll do. I'll wear pink
and I'll be good at math and I'll be twelve.
And in the movie, we'll play ourselves.

Leigh Stein is the author of the chapbooks How to Mend a Broken Heart with Vengeance (Dancing Girl Press), Least Inhabited Island II (h-ngm-n), and Summer in Paris (Mondo Bummer). She lives in Brooklyn.

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