Sarah Kain Gutowski
Dust and Empty Words
How careless you have been with your life
and your loves: even your houseplants
lean like barflies toward what they crave:
light’s intoxicating constancy, hope’s vapor,
something more fertile than dust and
empty words. Now their yellow leaves
and limp or brittle stalks remind you
of the jaundiced, passed-out men slumped
behind the wheels of cars in the pub parking lot.
There they waited for dawn or death to end
their slow withdrawal. Your plants wait for this
grace, too. And not just the exhausted ferns
and blanched exotic vines: the walls brandish
their pocked faces every time you raise
the blinds and light exposes each wound –
they wear their scars to prove how much damage
a life with you produces. The musty stacks of paper
piled high inside the basement feed a growing family
of mice and crickets: perhaps the only nurturing
you have ever done, wholly accidental.
Sarah Kain Gutowski is the author of Fabulous Beast: Poems (Texas Review Press), winner of the 14th annual National Indies Excellence Award for Poetry. Her poems have appeared in various print and online journals, including The Gettysburg Review, So To Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art, The Threepenny Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and The Southern Review.