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.

One, two.

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.