Liturgy of Addiction by Rachel Dean

Extension of You by Bella Harris
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Liturgy of Addiction

In November, it snows an inch
and you show up at my door in a t-shirt,
the back of your arms ice-box cold,
a bruise
purpling under your left eye.

The house darkens with the afternoon
so you turn on all the lights
and settle down to sleep under the kitchen table.
I bring you
a blanket and ask about your religion—
we speak of God until he joins the conversation,
a trinity.

The bottle between us christens our trickery
and our tongues slip, vodka
shining over curled lips.

I start buying food
for two and your bruise turns
yellow, disappears.

I show you the places I have been, drag
out dusty photo-albums where I am a hero in progression
of age, wounds unsalted.
You point to scars and tell stories
that bleed into the carpet
and we step carefully around the
stains like recess hopscotch.

Spring bites its way out of March and you
disappear for a while. Take nothing with you
but filled space and
$300 from my bedside drawer.

People say things like told you so and live and learn
and I pull the phone jack from the wall
to avoid more recommendations
on nuclear relationships,

you are sleeping under someone else’s table,
smelling like cigarettes
and violent hunger and
syrupy booze from
brown bags.

You don’t come around again until July,
and only to give back a book you borrowed
and only to tell me
you bought a dog and only to say you’re clean
and only to mention you can sleep in the dark now and only
to ask for some extra pocket change,
you know, if I have it.

Three months later, I hear from a friend
that you might’ve died, but no one’s sure,
she says, no one really cares, she says
no one thinks to call your mom
and I plug the phone back in and
call around to separate fact from fiction.

A shelter saw you last week and a bar did, too
so your existence
smears and smudges its way through town, through
the houses of people still keeping true on worn out
family favors, into my living room where it kindles and dies
and rekindles and burns low,
skipping across the universe and finding the sky,
where the lights are always on and
there are always tables to sleep
under and
your lies are as harmless as
your hands.

Rachel Dean

Rachel Dean is a 20 year old currently living in Florence, Italy, wandering through Europe with her friends and reading a wide range of feminist literature during travel-time. She would like to acknowledge that this makes her sound much cooler than she actually is. She loves cats and sad ballads and probably eats too much bread. Her work has previously been published in Potluck Magazine.