THANKS FOR THE COKE
 

I was looking for you and I took a swim in your pool.
   It wasn’t your pool. You never had a pool. It’s the house

I grew up in. The pool is new. The people are new.
   It was a hot night in July. No one was home. I opened the gate,

took off my clothes, dove in, swam end to end.
   Thanks for the beer you left poolside. Thanks for the coke.

The barn across the road is broken and the cows wandering
   some road no one ever figured out.

Is that north? South? What next someone might ask.
   I was looking for you and I go on looking. That kitchen.

Those windows. How does any one person be that much gone?
   There it is, the full moon–so cold tonight it’s like the moon

is a hole in the sky through which all heat goes. And the light
   on the snow, you could read by it. You could go for a walk in it

which apparently you did. The crust on top must have
   held you up. Must have made it possible to take that walk.

In daylight, I’ll look for tracks. To see what came through
   while I slept. Where anything went.
 
 
NEVER SAY YOU’RE SORRY
 
My black high-heeled Vince Camuto shoe is sitting
   in a snow bank somewhere downtown. Might have fallen
from the car when I dropped my son at The Daily Buzz,
   or my girlfriend at her job. It was time for class.
I was wearing my barn boots with the pink duct tape
   around the sole—manure, hay chaff, odd little bits
sticking out. I shuffled into school wearing those boots,
   passed out the papers I’d just graded. Something stinks,
one of the students said. We were studying death and taxes.
   We were seeking a female actor for the Ensemble. I had asked
the students to bring peanut butter or mac n’ cheese.
   Next on the agenda was a critical look at Georgia O’Keefe.
My feet were too hot. The classroom desks were broken.
   Paint was peeling off the walls, and students had written on the desks,
Better Luck Next Time, and the usual For a good Fuck, call… etc.
   Down the hall, teacher was teaching a welding course for women.
Oxy-fuel blazing. Oxy-fuel cutting. Business class was all about
   how to dun your debtors. I could hear the teacher running the students
through the drills. You should set up a delinquency schedule
   and letters accordingly, and never, never say you’re sorry, she said.
I was thinking about my black high-heeled shoe in the snow-bank
   downtown somewhere. I was thinking about the cold air
inside it and the snowplows doing a final terrible scrape street by
   street. We were almost done with class; I was wearing paper shoes
on my feet at that point, compliments of the Chemistry teacher.
   The students looked up and saw a band of flashing lights
in the sky that were clearly not an airplane. They rushed
   to the windows but then the lights were gone. It just happened
to be the longest night of the year and there were celebrations to go to.
   One day perhaps I’ll get the shoe back. A bit of salty snow
in the toe. And yes, I too saw the strange lights in the sky
   but I acted like nothing at all. I don’t want to be the woman who
runs the UFO club. There’s lots of things anyone keeps
   mum about. When I left class it was so quiet you could hear
my paper shoes rustling down the hallways. I’ve got the lone
   Vince Camuto on a special shelf in my closet.
If anyone out there finds the other one, please shoot me an email.

Carol Potter

CAROL POTTER, author of five books of poetry, is the 2014 winner of the Field Poetry Prize for Some Slow Bees from Oberlin College Press, and 2014 recipient of a Development Grant from the Vermont Arts Council. Potter’s fourth book of poems, Otherwise Obedient (Red Hen Press, 2007) was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in GLBT poetry. Her Short History of Pets won the 1999 Cleveland State Poetry Center Award, and the Balcones Award. Potter’s poems have appeared in Field, The Iowa Review, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, The Massachusetts Review and many other journals and anthologies.

Latest posts by Carol Potter (see all)