You sit cross-legged on your bed
like nothing ever happened the day
Your roommate, back in town,
hands me money to buy beer at the store
when he hears I am going shopping.
I buy blueberries you will never eat,
salmon you will place in your freezer and forget,
organic peanut butter, a bag of Mandarin oranges.
Mandarin oranges, we both know, will not cure you,
the nurses and doctors letting you go
once the alcohol is gone, knowing
it will find its way back to you in a month or two
of being left alone while I go back
to my husband and watch him drink,
the pendulum I will swing on for months
before leaving, many fights, many drinks,
guilt, bargaining, apologies,
but this afternoon we pretend
you are healed and everything
will be like it is in an Afterschool Special
we both grew up watching,
the handsome, troubled boy
sitting on the edge of the bed peeling
an orange the neighbor girl brought him.
Look, they marvel, it is so juicy.
Look, they exclaim, like it’s the single most important revelation,
there aren’t even any seeds.
Suzanne Burns writes both poetry and prose. This poem is from her full-length collection, Look At All the Colors Hidden Here.