;

They’ve given me a window.
Now I don’t need the umbrellas
collapsed under the coat rack
to tell me about the rain,
and the jackets
I’ve come to know on hangers
leave on shoulders,
bunch out on lunch breaks,
file home at the end of the day.
I stay.
The janitor makes his last pass,
and I avoid his gaze—watch deer
making do with the false-front forest
of the golf course.

They gave me a door as well,
which I’m afraid to close.
I need to hear their approach―
at the entrance, stone
makes dun-toned pumps clock in,
then carpet intercepts,
leaves just the hiss
of a suit’s slick fabric
as my frantic rumor:
They’re coming to send you home.
But it’s none of my business,
they do not stop,
and I cannot get up and follow.

The window does not open.
It is not a way out.
And I will never stand on the other side
except in a dream,
where I see myself knocked around
then locked in.
If I don’t keep quiet,
they will come back
with clubs.
They will pull my name off the door,
so no one will know
I am there.

Tonight, the building’s front doors
are a manhole cover.
I shove,
and the real air
touches me all at once.
I find it is spring.
Contrails fill the low-lit sky
with fleeing.
Below, every paper hole
I have ever punched has been let go
under the pear trees.

 

 

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About Marielle Prince

Marielle Prince
Marielle Prince is a poet and editor living in Charlottesville, Virginia. She has served as poetry editor of Meridian and count intern for VIDA, and is currently poetry editor of The Collagist. Recent and forthcoming publications include work in Crab Orchard Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Nashville Review, Ninth Letter, Poetry Northwest, storySouth, and Yemassee, where her poem won the 2016 Poetry Prize.