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July

The air conditioner is dripping

down the peeling paint, and the bathroom

is full of poisoned bees staring at themselves

in the mirror before they die,

and all I want to do is drive, the radio a river

of summers, everything I’ve lost

flashing in its current.

The car is blowing cool air over my skin

and my arms are bare and freckled

and they still look like my young arms,

the ones I stared at in the sunlight

on the front steps of my first house,

thinking These are mine.

No years in the skin, the years

my friend from college keeps talking about

when I meet her for breakfast.

She orders eggs and then apologizes

because she remembers how much

I don’t like them, even though

it’s been twenty years since she left

her pink coat in the front closet

and then called from Red Deer to ask me

to send it. It was too soon, we needed

more time to slide under. But I went

to the closet and took the coat off the hanger.

It had fake fur and little suede triangles,

and I folded it and packed it in a box.

My friend sips her coffee. Even back then

she could let a pause fall like a shaft

of light. But when I poured too much

rum in my coke night after night,

she poured some of it back, and through

the thin walls of our house I sometimes

heard her crying. She doesn’t finish

her eggs and they sit between us

on the table. Soon we will have to go

back outside, into July.

from Dresses from the Old Country (2018)Find other Laura Read books in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2018
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Laura Read Poems

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