"What Is Your Emergency?" by Beth Gordon


You can’t see blood on black

sheets, can’t distinguish zinfandel from licorice, stand in a crosswalk

on a buzzing Sunday afternoon

and the impact of a car will knock you out of your shoes equally, medium

dark blue medium dark gray.   

When you pull back the blanket, a sudden odor tries to warn you, metallic

and muddy, like rotting potatoes,

a molded towel in your grandmother’s laundry basket, the orphaned

mouse who died beneath the floor,

huddled in a crevice waiting for her mother to arrive with tree bark,

fungi and centipedes to satisfy

her Lilliputian hunger. No missing puzzle piece presents itself. You lie

down. You jump up with murder

on your skin, the remnants of a life that ended with a misused carving

knife, now hidden beneath your bed.