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Country Curtains by Katie Holtmeyer

2021 Pushcart Prize Nominee


we all want revenge but so many of us would settle

for justice I’m not talking about logistics today I am

talking to friends through a computer screen

and now there is the hint of a permanent smiley face

on my bedroom wall I have made

so made casual mistakes

I have shot at soda cans with a BB gun at close range

and done so much better than the boys did

do you remember the coveted sticky tac we’d collect

when the teachers let us help them clean out their classrooms

on the last of school drawing our names

in shaving cream like reverse finger paints

these are our collective keepsakes please

marry my memories sing the vows to the crowd

of ladybugs on my front porch I told you I’m not

talking about logistics today I am

talking through black ink on a white page I filled

the dent in my wall with toothpaste and I laugh

every time I pass it please don’t kiss me

in the sunken garden just lie

on the ground beside me and stare at what’s left of the stars

we named the fountain there Mary Martin once

filled it with water from the bottles we brought from

home because an empty fountain in the ghost of a lake

was the saddest thing we’d ever seen

I’ve been over this already I’m not talking

about logistics today I’m talking about

you and me and the trace of sharpie on our skin

did you think if you whispered goodbye it would hurt less

I recognized every damn one of your tactics

this isn’t about changing the channel or searching

for yourself in a song this is about the clocks being

an hour behind half the year because I don’t know

how the settings work on my car’s dashboard

this is about how I was only supposed to give you a

ride home that first night but you complimented

my commitment to protesting daylight savings time

this is about a guy at the bar who gave us a dollar

because we were drunk and we really really wanted

to win the stuffed gingerbread man this is about

a girl jumping out of the telephone booth before

I knew you this is about the onion you placed by my bed

when I was sleeping because you read it could help cure colds

we crashed away with bulleted phrases of our

own private questions so I’ll tell you this

your worst offense wasn’t leaving

the coffee pot empty but it did make the list

we made it out beautiful but we didn’t make it far

kept each other warm and left a few legends in our wake

I’m not talking about logistics today I am

swept in the blurriness of both our mistakes we were

born to be gutter balls and slippery dance floors and

sad songs in the late morning slipped back into bed

I’ve been told I’m an empath but I don’t think

I’m a good enough person for that I wonder

if you ever forgave me for all the things

I almost did take me home but drive real slow

and make sure to turn on the car radio

listen to the lyrics again before you

change the station know that broken

blinds still let the light in

cover them up with your old flannel

Published in Issue 5

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