Poetry Finalist Heather McNaugher

Aug 30, 2016 by

Poetry Finalist Heather McNaugher

The Breakup

I said, more loudly this time, “We’re breaking up,”
then the line went dead,
or the signal cut out—what do you say now,
in this lineless century, for two people talking
abruptly dead? These were the years of
“Can you hear me now?” That innocuous dude
in the first hipster glasses, roaming the earth, asking
again and again. I said, “We’re breaking up,”
and she called back, she thought I meant the reception.
Because no one could believe it—Laurel and Heather, Heather
and Laurel, whose Polish-Catholic parents
six years before had their daughter committed,
the girlfriend arrested for statutory rape—
they sat us down at the kitchen table, cavatelli on the stove,
and begged, “But Heather’s family. Are you sure?”
We were not sure. There was a signal cutting out
but the line as taut and heavy as—
and on the other end, she knows this, she says,
“We can’t break up!” Because we’re that couple,
which sounds so stupid now, so dead, the opposite
of us, two rawboned boys who cheated
and survived, lived in different states with different women
and survived, got chased on bikes by men with bats
and survived, un-adopted that fucked-up little dog
and survived, moved to Brooklyn one Friday night
and survived, peed in men’s rooms
and survived, vomited in hats on the F-train
and survived, drove drunk through that blizzard
and—remember? White Jetta in a white out,
your fist a tight, translucent moon seducing second gear,
and me talking you through the faintest, dearest edge
of the rumble strip, the only remaining braille of road.

 

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Heather McNaugher is the author of System of Hideouts and the poetry chapbooks, Panic & Joy and Double Life.

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