About the Feature
Photo by Stephen Kruso
In summer, its trees blaze with color,
their fingers spilling over the tenants.
There is a smoker, our fixture, his cough
a deep chime. One, two. His second-floor watch
is consistent but punctuated. There are children,
creatures of the afternoon, DayGlo bicycles
lurching forward with half-flat white tires. Sometimes,
I come home drunk past midnight. I am mostly
alone. Sometimes, there are families grilling meat
and I am offered thin slivers and conversation.
Sometimes, there are only men—too few to call
a congregation—drinking beer in the lamplight.
Their good-natured laughter is enticing,
their bottles amber-bright and too warm to sweat.
These are the most nondescript men I have ever seen.
Once, he followed me inside. I woke with a full Modelo
on my nightstand and my forearms ripe with bruises:
a used-up cutting board, a dry oil slick, a woman’s
stained underwear. Now sometimes I come home
and fall to my knees. He’s here—
in the corners, behind each closet door, crouched
in the shower. The AC growls awake.
About the Author
Paige Quiñones is a PhD candidate in poetry at the University of Houston, where she is the managing editor of Gulf Coast. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Crazyhorse, Poetry Northwest, Sycamore Review, and elsewhere.