[34] Maplewood, Tanner Stening

For Bama

See you in the morning with a happy face! / except no one wants to cook.

It is another year of guessing commuters’ reactions
when they see me wall-hugging back to where
the excitement began
in anticipation of leaving.

And well-groomed strangers still think it’s okay to pet
somebody else’s terrier just because it isn’t anxiously
looking over its gadgets and agenda.

I would get us out of here if I could. Overnight staff
still find time for gossip, everything from snooping on the unsealed
rape case in the district court, to the cryptic business

a friend of a friend is caught up in—the inevitable declension of
event planning at Maplewood
foretold in alabaster.

Really it was scraped out of styrofoam takeout
and scribbled into your rhythm strip.

Listen, this investment in delegated mercy may come
with an accidental fall, a broken hip, insanity.

This place

where your own death is kept from you
like the answer to a disagreement,
a common finding cropped along the downslide

of everyday frustration, rearing a golden disguise.

The music is what I think when I think about you now.
Because I never think about you anymore. Because I don’t know which of us
is going to make it to the end. But I can’t help think

we’ll find out together.

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