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~ inspired by a poem by Jameson Fitzpatrick with the same title

I catch the train.
I make the flight.
I get the promotion.

I never worry
if my waist is small enough, the number
on the scale never dips
to double digits, I don’t cling
to my own hip bones like a steering wheel
of an out-of-control car. I don’t eat
an apple and two rice cakes
for lunch for an entire year.
Instead I plant an orchard, I grow
six varieties of apples and I bake warm
cinnamon-scented pies. I eat them
with my hands, fingers digging
into the warm filling.

I never take him back after the first time
or the second or the third. We never
even date, he remains the friend
of a friend I met over dinner.

I don’t have an affair, my married
coworker doesn’t push me
up against the conference wall
and kiss me, fingers lifting the hem
of my skirt so he can slide inside me
after our Monday staff meeting.
My husband doesn’t read
my emails, my journal. He doesn’t
throw the lamp, it doesn’t smash,
my fingertips don’t bleed from the pale
gray shards. I don’t receive threats,
I don’t have to take out a restraining
order, I don’t cry
in front of the cops, my mother doesn’t
say but he was always so nice to us…

I don’t have a fight with my mother
on Thanksgiving, she doesn’t call
me a terrible daughter before hanging up,
she doesn’t bite back the words ungrateful
bitch because they never enter her mind.
We don’t spend the next two years
in silence.

My dad doesn’t get sick, he doesn’t spend
the last 30 years of his life in a revolving
door of doctors and drugs and hospital stays.

My sister doesn’t get diagnosed
with the same disease that chased
my father to his grave.

My dog doesn’t age. Her face doesn’t
turn white, she doesn’t slow – instead
she chases bunnies and squirrels
with continued vigor and gets
into bathroom trashes and eats
anything she finds on the ground.

I miss the train.
I miss the flight.
I don’t get the promotion.


Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press), and a Pushcart Prize nominee. She has her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte and her poetry is published or forthcoming in Public Pool, Rising Phoenix Review, The Legendary, Germ Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Brain Mill Press, Haunted Waters Press, and others. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79.

© 2019, Courtney LeBlanc

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