we left with our hands
uncurling
in separate pockets, our
fingers strained against the denim.

I left a place where I found
God and
a studio apartment with no utility bill,
on-site washer and dryer,
foothills with no rain and
0% humidity.
I left sun 300 days a year and
my rose blanket that smelled
like my parent’s room.
I left my
first incantation,
      my brother is dead
in the margin and you left me with this
townhouse in Kensington.

you left an abrasive echo
that scratched marks
in the walls
and no budget for paint.
one half of the utensils,
a couple of wicker baskets for bills
and no end table to set them on.
you gesture to the antique armoire,
remind me it’s yours
even though it’s not your
taste, you see the value
in heavy wood.

you took the bigger bottle of
toothpaste.
five chairs,
all the curtains, the area rugs,
the broom and your
libertarian glare lingered
by the stained velvet sofa
I dragged home for more
room to lay and
you let me
keep it, sit on it, eat dried ramen
on it and count dollars.
feel my clavicle
grow jutting out the skin
as I rationed meals.

you took the kitten away.
you took the lighters.
you left the armoire anyway
because I spit in your face
over it and
you
took back every last card
abruptly like when
you took my waist one breathy night and said
you were going to
      squeeze me in this bad neighborhood
right before you took me out of that soft spot,
tempered,
grabbed a litter box and took
clean off.

I took myself to the welfare office
to beg for my Access card
back; smacked my lips
the wrong way
and snacked on servility
inch by inch as I inched my way
back to our place.
threw away the clunky pepper
spray that women wraithed into chains
and hung from their hips
as if fear and trepidation and weaponry have
ever kept me safe.
someone told me failure is perspective
but all I see are cops
pinching girls with latex gloves
and all the little
shrubs that line the block look like
workers shaking their heads at me
      leave

I am
throwing coffee grounds into a
leaky cardboard box,
our first CD is scratched  and
on top.
I’m on a bed that lifts
with one giant sigh
and no top sheet and
no frame.
it rests on the floor.
they said risk meant courage
and you fucking
left here,
eating sprinkles with a spoon,
talking models of scarcity
and then pushing me.

“grace”

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