★ ★ ★ ★


My husband is dating the woman from accounting

My husband is dating the woman from accounting, which adds up perfectly.
I do not know her, but I do.
I do.

My husband fucked the woman from accounting.
He pushed all those digits out of her, I do not know, but I do,
if he collapsed on top of her,
if he stared into the burglarized candy store of her eyes,
like he had gotten what he came for, his tummy filled
thick with syrup, the last of his pocket change spent on a last lick.
He fucks her in a hotel, a place where nobody lives,
but everyone wants to visit.

My husband fucks the woman from accounting
and then douses his psyche in soap and freshly-washed linens
from the nameless help.
I’m sure he will tip well.
He uses his singles as an offering to the icon of “family,”
fake name paid from the tongue.
He lays his cash down at the front desk and on the nightstand.
He lays it down.
The woman from accounting is no longer counting numbers,
she climbs on top of him like cash, pinning him.
They exchange numbers for moans,
they expose carefully-deduced figures on anonymous white sheets.
Someone else will clean the mess, will cook the books.

My husband is dating the woman from accounting, which adds up perfectly.
I do not know her, but I do.
I do.

In Your Absence

I was first to arrive at your fate.
I stood in the middle of nothing,
surrounded by your death and my wedding dress.
For the first time, your body frightened me.
I cannot create from your blood.
How many babies could we have made from mine?

For your wake, I applied Skin Liberating Make-up
and waterproof mascara.
You smelled like flowers and formaldehyde.
The flower shop had a sale on perennials, which we missed.

Someone says, There’s no point in having the heat on
if it’s going out the window.
Does “heat” mean “John?”
A neighbor says, Fluffy’s the best. You don’t even know she’s here.
Does “Fluffy” mean “John?”
My co-worker says, You had a stapler. It disappeared?
Yes, it did.

The cat meows at the closed door,
desperate for what’s on the other side.

The leaves follow the car that has left.
I thought the blowing leaves meant you were coming home.
Each day begs to be multiplied.
I starve the beggar, hoping to hallucinate you back.

I rework the story like origami,
opening and closing my mind for a new answer.
But your life is solved.
I am bullied by memories of our future.
My dreaming is at rest.
It’s you and me against the world, baby,
pushing from either end.

Poet, social worker, mama, and Scorpio are among the identities of Stella Padnos. Her poetry appears in various literary journals, anthologies, and forums, including Women’s Studies Quarterly, Mommikin, and Lady Parts, a Barbie-themed online collaboration. Stella works as a therapist in New York City. Her debut collection of poetry, In My Absence, was released in summer 2016 from Winter Goose Publishing. She enjoys writing about ambivalence, attractions, and general emotional discomfort.

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