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The Mattress

ISSUE:  Fall 2018


No car to drive to the dump and too embarrassed 
to borrow one, you scrape the black mold 
off the underside as best you can, muscle it 
onto your shoulder. Spores multiplied to the size 
of you, the rough shape, born night after night 
by the heat of your sleep. So late you lurch 
down Main Street without notice. Turning 
at Taylor you pause between streetlights, crease
the mattress in half and squat on the fold 
so you won’t have to face it. You’re almost 
to the bridge when the cop’s spotlight throws 
the awful bulk of your shadow on concrete. 
Where you going with that thing? 
You make up a story. Is it yours? You admit it is. 
Not your best look, Junior. Yes, you play along, 
I should change. The cruiser turns down Eighth 
and a moment later a coal train rattles under 
the bridge on its way out of the country. You brace 
the mattress on the guardrail and pivot 
the weight, torqueing it down through the dark 
where it lands on the black coal and pulls 
north like shame itself on a conveyer belt, 
the mold gazing up at you like the aborted face 
of what, all by yourself, you have made.



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