Last night I woke up
and bumped into your death
in the dark.
I can't blame it, exactly,
I've been unkind,
bound the thing like a roast
with butcher's twine,
and left it to rattle
in the lockbox beneath the bed.
It had grown lonely, it had resorted
to attention-seeking behavior.
It crouched beneath my keys
to pounce as I left the house—
and often, it coaxed
the telephone to ring out,
to shake off hard-won silence
with all the stupid enthusiasm
of a wet dog. Your death
misses the assuasive days
of the short leash, misses
the nights I seduced it
to play on loop
until we both collapsed into sleep.
It's barbarous—I tell your death—
this mounting infidelity,
and there is no word yet
for the kind of shame
that twins my breath
to every moment
that you do not breathe.

Cate McLaughlin graduated with an MFA from Syracuse University where she also currently teaches composition. Her recent publications include The Common, the minnesota review, and Cutbank.