Carbon Paper

January 9, 2008
By Nicole Shek, Buffalo Grove, IL

Scattered around the house
are hospital bills and laminated
packets with yellow carbon paper
folded in its sleeve.

Sometimes she cries
behind her bedroom door
sometimes she doesn’t even bother
so you just hear it,
when you’re eating your salad
on the table that’s too white
even when it’s tainted
with coffee rings and
bread crumbs.
You angle the fork
to pierce the next leaf,
but it just hovers there
like feet over cold water,
and your stomach tightens
and you’re just not hungry anymore.

She wears her wig less and less
and you’re glad
she seems more confident.
she’ll skip out now and then
and smile and say
look how long it’s getting
and she nods it towards you
and you stroke it so lightly
like touching a newborn
and it’s so soft and thin
like eagle fluff
and your jaw tenses
and you’re not breathing
but you smile back
and then you laugh because
she says she looks like a lesbian.

She is imprinted in you
like carbon paper
that leaves traces over
our kitchen table.
Her body is your body
it tears when hers tears
and laughs when hers laughs.
You are her perfectly
prototyped copy,
that will sing when she sings
and will hold her
strong hands under the blue
sheets and scalpel.

This will certify that the above work is completely original.
Nicole Brianna Shek


Spotlight of western sun
piercing the window
dust glitters in its arms
and does not settle.
A parched rose
curling in its thirsty vase
card castle fragile,
Huckleberry jam
leaves only residue
crusted on the ribs of pickle jars
berries overgrown in the yard
Fried chicken
from last night’s dinner
exceeds two stomachs
heavies the gut
and leaves bones on the china.
The door
with alphabet letters
arching a name
walled by a shivering rocking chair
empty toy chest
pictureless fridge
no crayons play on the floor
just the spiders
and broken eggshells
Wallpaper blanch, even yellow
corner unwrapping itself
like leaves concaving
where the ceiling has been honest
brown rain collapsing into full tin pots
breaks webs
and tarnishes the panel
curdling sleet
eating away these old walls.

This will certify that the above work is completely original.
Nicole Brianna Shek

Say When

Say when you’ll be missing
the early sun climbing
on your pink and white quilt
that your grandmother stitched,
and the glow that made it
through the orange tapestry
always over the window
that converted your room holy;
a sun dome rich with your taste.

Say when you’ll think of
the absence of fur
from feline comrades
that would sprawl over
bed sheets and black coats.
that graced you when
you cried or laughed
or just needed something to hug.

Say when you’ll regret
not telling him
I love you
the moments you didn’t laugh
with him over you,
breathing in his warmth
and honey-fawn eyes.

Say when you’ll remember
the kitchen chairs
that were never cleaned,
with family sitting in them,
hunched over a bowl of lentil soup
and an opened New Yorker.

Say when you’ll miss hearing
her angel voice singing,
music sounding through the ceiling
and resonating off the walls
filling the house like
the greatest lantern
would cast light in the dark
when she says
good night sweetie
and the cat paws on the door
and he writes his books
in the basement and the sun
is on the other side of the earth.

Say when you’ll miss
the brilliance of home,
you will when it’s gone.

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