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Laundromat

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Joey wants to go out for pizza,
so when practice is over
he drags me into town.
His skateboard and my clarinet
steal seats like they have names.
I take extra slices for mine while Joey
leans into his chair,
his jaw swaggering as he eats. He won’t stop talking
because if he’s quiet,
I might have a chance to see something.

It’s hot and we’re both sweating
as we leave, the restaurant tossing our shadows
into the parking lot. Our hands press
leftover grease into our jeans. Joey’s hat
bends over his face as he grins,
slurring girls’ names together for me. He bites his lip
when he thinks about one of them, rolling her body out
and after a second
he does it again to hear himself, teeth catching on skin.
Joey smirks at me and I swallow,
spit scratching the back of my throat.

Cassidy’s there as we pass the laundromat.
With her legs up
on the counter, she slouches
by the dirty window. She’s taken off the hoops
she wears in school, and her hair
cradles her acne and her baggy eyes.
As she watches the clothes spin
her sweatshirt traps the air around her, draping it
over her head. I look away
but Joey can’t stop staring
as if there’s a place she’s made around herself
he wants to find. When she looks up and sees him
he falls into his shirt like he’s tripped over something,
arms suddenly bony. She shudders, fingers
digging into each other. When her mouth
starts to move Joey leaves,
slamming his legs against his skateboard.

At the corner, he’s leaning against a streetlight
and I ask him what happened.
He pushes his tongue around his lip
and bites it. “Didn’t you see her?”
I shrug, feeling the fat around my arms like wings.
Joey twists away from me, says “Forget it”
and shoves himself down the sidewalk like
he’s trying to remember how to walk
outside of her.





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