by Kate Peterson

If estrangement is an ongoing death
with no resolution, then what is living
with a man who strangles you with his eyes?
Do you not die every morning when the clouds
glow grey? You hear glass break in the sink,
his morning mantra of blood and fists,
and all you want is coffee—pleasure you can count on.
The shrink says it’s narcissism,
clinical, undeniable, and you should pack a bag,
bring the nest shaped chair if you must, but you must
run. You know this.

You see failure coming from a distance,
like the train that wakes you at 4:33am, blowing its warnings,
but you won’t let go. You lie in your bed and watch the ceiling tilt.
Remember when you used to count horses
instead of sheep? You knew what it was like back then, to fly.

You need to be the kind of woman you knew growing up
the kind who killed her own rooster with her bare hands
and ate him in small, thoughtful bites. And there he is again
with his disgust for your nostalgia. Your weakness.

Soon he will come back to bed smelling of rust
and apologies. He’ll say the slate’s wiped clean
and you should start again. Every night
you’ll send a dove into the black sky.
And every morning, feathers
always feathers.


Kate Peterson earned her MFA from Eastern Washington University, where she currently teaches composition. Her poetry, essays, and interviews can be found in The Sierra Nevada Review, Baldhip, Aethlon, Barnstorm, Willow Springs, and Glassworks, among others.

1 Comment

Filed under Poetry

One response to “Conceit

  1. Word magic. Loved it!

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