portion of the artwork for Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz's poetry

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

That morning you woke up alone,
small in your empty Brooklyn bed,
forgotten, left behind, my heart
fanned its darkest smile. You,

who had been so cruel, now wearing
your paper dress, your sloppy drunk,
your careful parade of I’m over it,
your wither, your ice, your sneer.

The new woman was a laugher,
all ditz and curl, but enough for him
to leave. Though you would be the one
who’d move, claim to be better off

without. Perhaps it was this brashness,
this faux resilience, that had me hold
tight as leather, riding your bucking
heart break, as guiltless and flashy

as a weekend cowboy, savoring
each crack with an eager pinkie.
I clung to it like bad voodoo,
like a perfect and deserved hex,

watching your gaunt striving,
your cheek turning, your nose
rubbed in it, the other woman
laughing at the end of the bar.

When curiosity finally made me
take my boot off your throat,
it was then I noticed you weren’t
moving. Sober like a face slap,

obvious as the morning after,
I saw you for what you are:
a woman, cruel and imperfect,
a fighter who tried everything

to protect her one and only heart,
how it didn’t matter, it was torn
fresh from its root anyway, with
me, standing by, silent, leering.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 31 | Winter 2011