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I never wanted you to go away, ever.
Not the three days you left to fetch
My baby sister, little blob, all mouth.

Not the evenings you kicked your
Duster into the corner, shimmied into
A shiny girdle, slashed your mouth
Red, and sashshayed out the door
On high black spikes and laughter.

Not the afternoons you slipped away
On ice cold gin, hard-boiled fiction,
Farther and farther, a cigarette always
At your lip even when peeling potatoes,
Chopping onions, weeping because.

Not the hospital nights you wheezed
Blue and grey and nearly cold until
They stuck the tubes in your throat
Making you live again and again,
Sending you home to the life
You never wanted.

Not when and where and how you finally
Escaped, in the middle of the night,
Alone in rented rooms.

Were you reaching for the phone?
Did you call my name, falling to the floor?
Was there a tunnel, another side,
An open door? Was it easy,
Leaving me behind?

This poem appeared in the BERKELEY POETRY REVIEW.

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