The boulders in my stomach already know.
They shift, rumble. The rotary phone
sits pretty on the Yellow Pages,
curls its green cord at me. I wait.
Maybe she missed the bus.
Wednesday feels like Friday night. I call The Bitter End,
where the bartender knows my name.
Sorry, hon. Haven’t seen her tonight. Try The Rabbit Hole.
BREAKING NEWS: Another woman’s body is found
on the banks of the Green River.
I would rather hear the music of fist on flesh
than feel these violent quakes.
Star Spangled Banner, American flag, fuzz. Off air.
I map out possibilities for breakfast: dry cereal, bread and cheese,
more spaghetti, one fried egg split in two.
I listen for the door creaking open,
but only hear a police officer’s voice in my head,
asking me if there is a grown up around.
I get Manny to his bus stop, then school,
look for her face in the windows of the buses
passing me by.
The fog thickens. I bomb a math quiz,
miss my queue in band, sleep in the nurse’s office
during lunch, find any excuse to go to the Main Office.
Maybe they’ve identified that woman. Tell me
it’s not her.
Manny plays with Sonny. I forget her name in my
band notebook but practice anyway. She slinks
through the door while I’m vomiting in the bathroom,
puts a hand on my head for a temperature check.
Mom, you didn’t die last night.
Neither did I.
Staring at his lips pressed
I enter the measure one
beat late. He hears it, smiles. continues.
Later, we eat lunch in the courtyard,
harebells and honeysuckle,
touching thighs, cold fries from Ezell’s.
He asks about a movie at Seattle Center,
leaves a grease mark on my jeans.
The breeze carries wet air,
brings me back to age 7 at the marsh,
with Billy and Dante.
The baseball rolls to
the river bank,
Billy behind me,
Dante in front,
why you play
baseball so good
show us your pussy
prove you’re a girl.
The air shifts minty breath,
he says, well?
Yes, I decide,
shaking mud off my hands.
I will be his mouthpiece.
Tonya Wiley is a poet, freelance writer, teaching artist and educator from New Haven, Connecticut. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Central Oklahoma and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Education and Montessori Elementary Teacher Certificate from the University of Hartford and the Montessori Training Center Northeast. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and her work has been published or is forthcoming in Huizache Magazine, New Plains Review, Distinctly Oklahoma, and Pegasus.