I’ve joined the widow now who holds her breath
and wears blue gloves to change hotel sheets
with sets she brings from home, then leaves behind
on mornings she flies out. I’ve joined him too,
the lawyer who unscrews his toilet seats
when summer grandsons weep and wave goodbye.
The prom queen is another counter who
must tally eyebrow hairs, their tweezer deaths
each time she plucks them for a trove she keeps––
the fourteenth box she hides among her shoes.
Our therapist says mine’s a calmer kind.
I rhyme, recheck checked locks, and number leaves
the kids track in. I hold my screams. I clean
the mirror that a former face called clean.
Adam Tavel is the author of five books of poetry, including two new collections: Green Regalia (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2022) and Sum Ledger (Measure Press, 2022). His third book, Catafalque, won the Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press, 2018). His recent poems appear, or will soon appear, in North American Review, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Ninth Letter, The Massachusetts Review, Copper Nickel, and Western Humanities Review, among others. You can find him online at http://adamtavel.com/.