Rachel McKibbens

There was a salad. Chicken Caesar.
The dressing was too sour, but it was 12 a.m.
in New York City and I knew I’d die if I ate more pizza.

My lover didn’t care about the eating. As I chewed,
he became excited with a memory, told me how,
earlier, he’d seen a bloody torso beneath a bus:

Oh, yeah, I saw a body torn in half today!
I’m serious! It was pinned beneath the tires.
I’ve never seen that much blood in all my life.
It ran a thick stream down 1st Avenue.
All the tires in the traffic spun red.

I stopped eating. He’d waited an hour
to tell me this. Who else could wait an hour
but him?

I don’t know.

I made him tell me again
hoping the ending would change,
my eyes pleading for a punch line. No.
This was not a joke. My lover saw a person,
or, the top half of a person in the street
and he can’t un-see it.

The lettuce began to wilt in all the blood,
the chicken sobbed thin as a ghost.
I apologized to it and dropped my fork.

That night my lover’s breath reeked of car exhaust
and the tread of his fingers grew course.
As he steered them around my nipple,
down my ribcage, between my legs,
I saw a child in the backseat of a family car

her small face stretched to wax horror,
watching two fat pigeons play an angry game
of tug-of-war with a scrap of bread
shaped just like a nose.

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