Rebecca Ellis


Someone has given the signal.
A dry clatter fills the room—paper cups
dropping into the metal wastebasket—
one kind of crowding. Betrayal

is the last item tossed in. Kiss it goodbye.
Now we can all go on with our lives.
What happened to you was not, after all,
a fact. It was, only, almost. Walk out of

that room, and maybe you can forget
all the times you were naked,
all the times you were abandoned,
all the times you learned to abandon yourself,

all the lies you told, the words you did not say.
One word, too large, folded
neatly away on paper in your pocket
and you will not look.  You tried to forget

how you folded. Neatly.
How you dropped into a metal wastebasket,
how you were always crowded
by simple nakedness,

and how you trained your memory,
trained it to fail so it would not
probe, over and over,
the empty cavern, the missing tooth.

You saw larceny everywhere.
You gave away nothing. You forgot
that he was the thief, the only thief.
That he thieved you.  He’ll never

admit it. There’s no sentence
that can be laid on him
except the one you say as you walk
out of that room alone.



ellis_photoRebecca Ellis lives in southern Illinois.  Her poems have appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Naugatuck River Review, Sugar Mule, Prairie Schooner, Adanna, and Crab Creek Review.  She edited Cherry Pie Press, publishing nine poetry chapbooks by Midwestern women poets, and is a supporter of the St. Louis Poetry Center.

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