Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Common Cold

By Laurie Kasischke


To me she arrives this morning
dressed in some
man’s homely, soft, cast-off
lover’s shawl, and some
woman’s memory of a third-
grade teacher
who loved her students a little too much.
(Those warm hugs that went
on and on and on.)
She puts her hand to my head and says,
“Laura, you should go back to bed.”
But I have lunches to pack, socks
on the floor, while
the dust settles on
the I’ve got to clean this pigsty up.
(Rain at a bus stop.
Laundry in a closet.)
And tonight, I’m
the Athletic Booster mother
whether I feel like it or not, weakly
taking your dollar
from inside my concession stand:
I offer you your caramel corn. ( Birdsong
in a terrarium. Some wavering distant
planet reflected in a puddle.)
And, as your dollar
passes between us, perhaps
you will recall
how, years ago, we
flirted over some impossible
Cub Scout project.
Hammers
and saws, and seven
small boys tossing
humid marshmallows
at one another. And now
those sons, taller
and faster than we are, see
how they are poised on a line, ready
to run at the firing of a gun?
But here we are again, you and I, the
two of us tangled up
and biological: I’ve
forgotten your name, and
you never knew mine, but
in the morning
you’ll find
my damp kisses all over your pillows,
my clammy flowers
blooming in you cellar,
my spring grass
dewed with mucus-
and you’ll remember me
and how, tonight, wearing my
Go Dawgs T-shirt, I
stood at the center
of this sweet clinging heat
of a concession stand
with my flushed cheeks, and
how, before we touched, I
coughed into my hand.
Look:
here we are together
in bed all day again.

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