It’s all stark, the way you step
through an Employees Only doorway
and see girders and chipped porcelain and corrugated
reality: Seeing her go from giddy and playful
to giddy, playful, and sick in my sink,
then passed out, still giddy and playful
in dreams--all in the 6.3 seconds it takes to propel
a cherry-red sliver of automobile up to
kill speed,
so fast there's no way anyone
walks away.

I’ve always suspected she sees herself
brittle, like the rewind of a thousand tragic
video store rentals
where everyone honest is weak.

But when she says she’ll try to be happy for me
for a girl ain't worth the pain or the time, I know
it takes more effort than I could find, and I know
she wants to scream, and I know
what it is she wants to say doesn’t come in words

Like a kid, so clear-minded and sure, she’d jumped into life--
and burned for the jumping, and growing I guess, she's
stronger and older and better,
and mostly she says she does not miss the past.

Looking back I can say by my thinking she’s right:
broken nights, mornings tasting like cigarette ash--
I just wish that the line from my gut to my mind
would open so such an idea could pass.

- The thing about magic -

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