Today's poem is by Ron Mohring
They sit near the window. Coffee steams
between them. They reach for sugar, cream,
divide the morning news. She says,
I hate you, I think I always have. He blinks.
He says, you have the most amazing eyes.
That doesn't count, she says. All right,
he says, you've never learned to cook.
Obvious, she says. She stirs her coffee,
taps her spoon on the cup's rim. He winces
at the sound. I read your diary, he says.
I don't have a diary, she says. Your back's
disgusting, all that hair. Your letters, he says,
I mean your letters. I steam them open
and I read them. I know everything.
You're an awful liar, she says. I hate this
game, he says. Play. You're not playing,
she says. All right, he says, I've found
someone else. She says, you've gotten fat.
Your breasts are ugly, he says. I wish
You would get circumcised.
That's it! he says. Isn't it? She pauses.
I slept with your brother Howard,
she says. So have I, he says.
She laughs. It frightens him,
inventing lies as camouflage. Each
is permitted one truth. I tried to kill
my mother once, he says. Can we stop now?
I'm pregnant, she says. I'm keeping it.
I love you, he says. Please stop. I want
to stop. We'll name it after Howard, she says.
I don't find that funny, he says. Stop it. Tell me
the truth. Silly, she says, I already have.
Copyright © 2002 Ron Mohring All rights reserved
from The Southeast Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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