Emily O’Neill’s “I Don’t Want to Talk About Anything”



I keep a little picture in my lungs
of capsized November on the Cape—not the whole
month (coop flown), but the week where the world ended
where the sand did. His mother borrowing my smokes.
I was her dearest wish. A daughter to pet & ply, to perfume
with white wine, to hide in her hope chest. I played along. Dressed up
as the small thing who’d get crass just long enough to crack
everyone’s face smiling, then quiet again in time to beat the boys
at spades. I stayed out with her son after dinner, trudged
down Commerical Street through a chowder of stars. Massachusetts’ fist
empty but for the wind & endless boilermakers. We took shots
in every bar about to shutter for the season. No one could tell
whether we were tourists. I caught my unfamiliar self
in a scratched bathroom mirror: stupid pilgrim, imposter
fiancée. Couldn’t belong on his arm though he wore me
like a flawless knock-off watch. A lie & a damn proud one.

Some endings beg you sip them for years. He said
it would be our place: nubby wall-to-wall carpet, tiny
lightless bathrooms, body sprawled on that bed with mirrored headboard
that caught his hips & the rest of our edges, best possible
portrait of what we’d stopped trying to protect. No one trying to push
our boat in any direction. I’ll never burn that moment down.