At the health clinic for birth control pills, the nurse asks
if I am married –– protocol down here in the south.
Last night, I spent hours in my bathroom cleaning
roach droppings speckling a defunct purple vibrator

a friend bought me one birthday. Polished bright, I recall
the time you and I broke the towel rack –– one of those
cheap ones that stick on –– in the bathroom at some
early hour of your 23rd year. Split over you on the wet

floor with your arms flopped out, traffic green admission
bands aligning your wrists, I said, Happy fucking birthday,
pulling myself up and for once, you stayed quiet, still.
I wait for the call announcing the results ––

the ones that know what killed you –– as they check
my vital signs, my temperature at the clinic. How quick
was it that yours dropped? To the cold below the tiles still
icing my knees, to your heart’s bursting room, to vacancy.

Julia Edwards is a poet from New York. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry MagazineBat City ReviewDiodeHobart, among others. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, where she served as poetry editor for The Greensboro Review.

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