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Off the Map
My best friend returns
from the East, sketches portraits of NYC,
tapes them to her wall. It used to be, she says wistfully,
that you could be a starving artist there. But now
you have to have money in your eyes to live in one of those apartments,
and the only reason I feel her pain
is that I want it to be my own. Then she
gives me the Narragansett beach, bottled up in a baby food jar
Three years have passed since then, and the sand in the jar
is black and festering. Bacteria, she told me,
somewhat happily. Bacteria.
For a while she is constantly being yanked back and forth between
there and here. I breathe in
and when I exhale she has settled, but in the wrong place.
She sends me selfies.
They are usually of her and
her mother. I have never met her mother, but to put it mildly
her mother is a striking woman.
I tell her Your mother is beautiful. She says Thank you.
Then she says I have to go. I have to yell at my niece about
her backpack. Her backpack is ugly and I hate it.
Girl really needs a new backpack.