I know I said I loved you in that cobalt glow from the TV light, on the threadbare couch, in bed (the mattress on your floor). It’s true you didn’t touch me enough or rub my back, you never told me I was beautiful but took my cash to pay your rent, get your hair bleached Eminem white. There was that one time you ran me a bubble bath and lit me a candle out of the summer blue. For that, maybe I did love you briefly but that was one time in a very long year— months in a dirty haze of smoke and unwashed sheets, MTV Cribs turned up too loud, an aural assault. You threatened to leave and although I was dying to be free, I still begged you, stay— never leave me. Thank you, thank God and thank Michigan for taking you back. I was going through a phase— a killing myself slowly without dignity kind of withdrawal from the world. Call it hibernation, fear of uncertain fortune— either way, I’m keeping your orange shirt.
Mary Paulson’s writing has appeared in Slow Trains, Mainstreet Rag, Painted Bride Quarterly, Nerve Cowboy, Arkana, Thimble Lit Magazine, Tipton Poetry Journal, The Metaworker Literary Magazine, Months to Years, Speckled Trout Review, Fleas on the Dog and Chronogram. Her chapbook, Paint the Window Open, was recently published by Kelsay Books. She currently resides in Naples, Florida.