national anthology of the best
undergraduate writing 2010

On a Friday Afternoon


After We're Done, We're Done, Kathleen Ditzig

She asks me why I left.

Was I too mean? Were my ribs too many?

Was the drummer too loud,

the engineer too simple, the tragedy too far away?

Was the fresh air too high up? Was Willie too dead?

 

You were mean, I tell her, but so was I. Sometimes

you’d lunge at me and claw and scream, but I

would have done the same, would have

scratched my name into your back and torn your hair out

had it not been winter, had the lake and sky and land

not gone on and on.

 

Your ribs were many, but I stood with you

in front of our mirror, fanning our bellies in and out

like accordions, like all women before us, like all women

after us. The drummer and the engineer and the tragedy:

Oh, they were kind and made me laugh

loud and steady. I hated them all.

The fresh air was taller than I could

reach and I had to resign myself to loudly

shouting Mine! Mine! to anyone who was listening.

And Willie? He was gone before we knew he had left, lying

in the water with his eyes closed, going away

to spit sunflower seeds and sketch forever and ever.