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Suzanne O'Connell

 

The Sleeping Bag

The girl, wearing her crisp flesh and new shoes,
walked past a discarded sleeping bag.
She noticed feet sticking out, soiled shoes,
knees to chest, dirty pants, hoodie over face.
A small bundle of human,
lying in the middle of the sidewalk.

The girl could have put down her leather purse,
opened the silver clasp,
reached for her phone,
called for help.
But she didn’t want to interfere,
didn’t want to touch the soiled discard.
What if they told her to do CPR?
The breathing kind over the mouth?
After all, the bundle made their own choices,
right?

The girl walked to her car,
sat on the plush seats,
smelled the lavender air freshener
that hung from her mirror.
She turned the air conditioning to high,
drove away listening to Springsteen
sing something about gates of hardened steel
surrounding the mansion on the hill.   

 

Listening To Errol Garner

Your hands
served on different committees.
The left
was as smooth as your brilliantined hair.
The right,
mischievous,
tickled one note,  paused,
then created a waterfall cascade.

Next,
a feint,
a repeat,
a kiss at the train station.
And then your stride!  Oh Errol,
that bowlegged swagger of yours,
while your left hand
marked the steps.

Your touch was gentle.
You freed a melody
trapped under silk.
You skipped,
bumped,
stumbled
to my beating heart.

And your stride!  Baby, that stride.


 

Because Paris

I stack my clothes on the bed.  Because
I missed you after work.  Because
I answered my texts instead.  Because
I was afraid to come home.  Because
we’d been fighting.  Because
you drink too much and get jealous. Because
I’ve given you plenty of reasons.  Because
you don’t pay enough attention to me.

Your letter said Paris.
I want to go to Paris,
be sophisticated.
I want to see the sights. Paris.
The name of the city, so romantic. Paris.
The city of lovers, Paris.
I would share my crepe with you.
I would go to a café with you.
I would walk over a bridge with you.
Your missing suitcase says you are elsewhere.
And I’m stuck here in Akron.

 

Suzanne O’Connell’s recently published work can be found in North American Review, Poet Lore, The Menacing Hedge, Steam Ticket, American Chordata, and Forge.  O’Connell was nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. Her first poetry collection, “A Prayer For Torn Stockings,” was published by Garden Oak Press in 2016 and her new poetry collection, “What Luck” will be published in March 2019.