Allison Elliott


So not to disturb Sara, our insomniac, finally asleep,
I quietly skimmed the pages of a magazine, looking at heads.

I waited for Kristin to come home, after her shift’s end.
We went to a bar and drank a pint.  We smoked the last of her cigarettes,

Because tomorrow she would be quitting, for real.  While we
Talked she kept scanning the room, exhaling over my head,

Searching for who knows what.  She hunted the jukebox
For a song that wasn’t there.  I ordered another round.

Once home, I showered off the scent of ash.
At 4 a.m., we watched a dead Spaniard become a saint, a parade

Of white umbrellas journeyed through St. Peter’s Square.
When the pope raised a shaking hand, I kneeled before

The screen and waited for a blessing to come upon my wet hair
And nicotine breath.  Set out for the deep, said the old man.

As the camera panned the crowd, we saw a face we knew, patent
Amongst the black mantillas and Spanish flags.  Our shouts ascended

Up the stairs where they stirred the sleep of Sara, our insomniac,
And put to death a dream three weeks in the making.  She began to cry.

return to  SHAMPOO 39