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Lucy Biederman



Six Days in New York

I love the sound of the elevator rattling down
the shaft. I'm like that—I've killed men just by living.
Let's go, the car's outside. A naked white
slip dips below the hem of a skirt for my thumb to touch.
I do what I want to, end of song. Like a pocket knife
the door opens: Crawl in, my wife. Let's have some silence

for a while. The lucky city pushes on the silenced-
bullet-colored S.U.V. like in a Chinese movie. I'm goin' down.
Jones, turn the radio on. In the window my jaw is a knife
that minces these days we're living.
We look like beasts. Cry, but it won't make me touch
you. I am self-contained behind the podium, and you're white

as a square of sidewalk spray-painted red is white.
Saturday on Amtrak, in the can of the silent
car, I changed and touched up
as Maryland shot its steam at downtown
D.C. The sun's blunt angle made living
seem a dull thing; on either side of the knife-edge,

light and dark just even out, a wash. During the dinner my knife
winked at me from its kingdom on the white
tablecloth like it knew my life. Tuesday morning, the living
room furniture perked its armrests, wiretapping us. Silence
seemed ridiculous; better to scatter platitudes to die this down
with. Wednesday was a cave of finishing touches

I growled around in. Shudders ran down each suit I touched,
but the classic black couldn't trick fate-for every knife
a hand to hold it, like yours on mine all the way down.
I won't wear it again; loyalty is for my hundred white
shirts, indistinguishable constituents. Their selfless silence
suits me. They don't desire variety. This various dream of living—

all I'm alive with still laps everyone else's living.
The Park now cringes at the touch
of my shoe, though last week it rose in pious silence
to meet my motorcade. City women sleep with a knife
under their pillow; I sleep with one between myself, white
versus black. Listen, tomorrow let's drive back downstate.

Speak! your silence cuts me like a butter knife
cuts a steak. Come, let me touch you. In your ghostly white
nightie, living my life for me—baby, you tire me. Lay me down.