what does the word emotionally available mean to you?
my therapist asks me. 


it’s nonsense, I think,
no one is ready.
I know my problems.
have taken inventory.
taken a fourth step.
haven’t taken a drink in years.
seen this woman every two weeks
for four of them.
t’s amazing how mired in
a cloud you can be while constantly
checking yourself.
this is the cloud I live in:
of close but never ready.

“I have that effect on people,”
I accidentally say out loud.
what effect?
she asks scrupulously.


sometimes I just stop in the middle of things,
realize I am murmuring or gesturing
or five miles past where I need to be.
it’s happened.
my knees are weak.
i’m outside in front of a brick townhouse
with a white bunny on the window and in
light yellow letters it says
“Happy Easter!”
I have no idea what day it is and
I want to take the mask off.
no keep the mask on.
it’s dirty outside.
I used to stick my hands
squarely in mud and
pull up clumps to catch worms.
nothing is ever coming back.
I have that effect on people.
“I can’t believe im gonna fucking live
through this,”I say out loud and a woman
with a chihuahua
walks the other way.
of what?
I hear her say.
what effect?


I  really shouldn’t lie this much
I think to myself but I keep going,
keeping appointments,
keeping arrangements.
my thighs burn.
I don’t drink enough water.
I meet him at the corner of 12th and locust.
I keep my mask on.
I don’t extend my hand
but I turn on: a bright
bulb of sanguine excitement.


I’m Ava Allinger,
the one who emailed you.
I am a nurse at Jefferson
looking for some extra disposable


I feel like I should tell my therapist
about the aliases,
and the lies but instead
I just say,


I dont know what I mean
and shrug.


“the aliases”

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