Issue 94 - Keith Kopka

by Keith Kopka

I wash the same small bowl of armpit hair
and caked deodorant, hold my head under the hot water
and listen to you sing like an open window
in a motel by the highway. The squeal of air breaks release
through your falsetto, the soft rumble of an idle body
dusting its face on the other side of the curtain.
When you leave I'll be able to clean each trace
of your existence: the makeup bag perched on the faucet
smudges of mascara across my otherwise spotless
Formica, a striped pink sock draped on the towel rack.
You reach the chorus and climb the edge of the toilet,
peer down over me, and I sing with you about bones
and Costa Rica, about a phone call and the choice
to ignore it. In my voice, I hear pieces of gravel popping
beneath the weight of traffic in a diner parking lot
that day in Dearborn, Michigan, when the waitress followed me
out the door, and we sped to the closest Red Roof
to pound our bodies together like Matchbox trucks
in the careless hands of a child. I didn't care when she left.
We'd only wanted the burnt orange stain of curtains 
closed tight over the sun. We never even filled the ice bucket.
The water has gotten cold, but I keep turning the faucet
to find more. You sing the same line about my ribs
parting ways while you flatten tight stacks of dresses
and shirts into a suitcase. When I'm not looking, you hide
notes around my house to remind me how much love we are in.
They say don't forget me, and your eyes when you sleep...
your mouth. There's a plane coming for you in the morning, 
and each time you go the feeling of disorder is as vague
as the use of a new wallet. I turn off the water and listen
to the zipper catch before you pull the teeth shut
over what you've packed. I've heard this song
many times. I already know where the notes are hidden.