Tax Incentives for the Brokenhearted
Because I was the one to end it,
and so soon, I offered to reimburse her
what I owed. She had covered
most of the wedding, the move,
our rent. I was living on the grace
of a friend, sleeping
in his sunroom on Folsom.
Every morning I opened my account
to see how little I had left.
It wasn’t looking good
until she wrote to say we could forget it
if I would let her claim me
on her taxes. I guessed there was
a rebate for this kind of thing.
I could hear my friend knocking
around in the kitchen, making coffee,
frying eggs. I couldn’t believe
my luck. I let myself be claimed.
Fast light on my hands
as I peel the sticker
from an apple on the train.
Viruses, I read, are
colorless, though lab techs
will blast one with atoms
so we can see its edges.
We slow around a bend,
then gather new speed.
My lender calls to ask
if I feel good. I set my screen
to black-and-white to make
the living world more vivid.
He says to hang tight.
He assures me we can go
lower. In Springfield we swap
the electric engine for diesel,
then drag a small, dark cloud
across the Berkshires.
A stash of apples in my bag:
Galas. An Empire.
We blow through an empty
station in a mechanical wind.
A friend of mine rides
cross-country in the bellies
of emptied-out coal cars
or on a plate of steel
called a porch. He pays
for almost nothing. He’s one
of my very favorite people.
I scroll through the latest
mortgage rates, having no idea
what a good deal looks like.
My sweetheart and I have
a rented apartment the size
of half a train car,
but we have a miniature
dishwasher, so we feel
we live in luxury.
We get them from warehouses
at the edge of the city, paging through
upright stacks, slumping one
heavily against the others and breaking
out the tape measure to see, or if
it can be made right with a table saw
and a chisel. It’s mostly my thing–
K goes along, even spots the one
for the bedroom, cut-glass knob
catching light as it swings.
She knows the doors we have are fine.
They open freely, they latch closed.
She also knows I’m a maniac who can’t
be stopped. She drags out a paneled turn-
of-the-century oak with mismatched
knobs, a half-length insert of beveled
glass. We lean it against the others,
her outline distorted by the waves.