Apartment Hallway, 6 pm
From the coursing human river,
a city at homeward rush, you split off,
take hold of the brass pull
burnished by years of hands
alike in only this: their touching
home here. Step into a stairwell
where the dark grows early
and the smell of many suppers
mingle. At the landing
a baseboard heater clicks and skitters,
and your face burns after the cold.
Sweet, muffled jazz
with sautéing aromatics seep
from one door; from another, voices
rise over a laugh track, bacon,
a child’s cry. Somewhere
a floor is clean with Fabuloso.
This is no-one-household’s land,
the hap-and fire-hazardous
zone of umbrella and walker,
bicycle and stroller and so
many shoes. And you
are in and of the jumble.
Let the foot-worn welcome mats
address you, the mezuzahs
bless, before you enter the one door
where you’re expected and the lamplight
falls across you, and your own
voice rises with the rest.
Possum on the road,
forgive me one last look at you:
night wanderer, now still
and sunlit, drawing
flies. I never knew your jaw
was like a kitten’s or your eyes
like drips of liquid bitumen,
the stoney tissue of this road
poured smooth to let us speed
away, always to somewhere else.
Your torn belly blooms the pink,
membranous sheen of a tongue’s
underside or of a woman, the same
bright satin slipping out.
Spilled this way you look
like the flared lip of a shell
I took, after the ocean
ate the whole soft animal.
Jennifer Polson Peterson is a poet living in South Mississippi. Her work has appeared in a number of journals including Pembroke Magazine, Cumberland River Review, and IMAGE. Find her at jpolsonpeterson.com and @j.polson.peterson on Instagram.