“I Push Back the Images and Climb into Bed” and “What Stays”

Issue 47 by Allison Bliss

“I Push Back the Images and Climb into Bed” and “What Stays”

I Push Back the Images and Climb into Bed

The blanket tucks my head away from the world.

My eyelids shut.

My knees fold into my stomach, and then

the plane you boarded to Orlando

crashes in Georgia before you can make your way to me.

It’s my fault for missing you, my fault for leaving in the first place.

My eyes open.

My nose draws shaky breaths.

My eyelids return to their resting place.

My cell phone rings.

My sister has to pass her boyfriend the phone because

she can’t tell me our mom has passed.

My eyes squinch.

My body rolls itself over.

My knees cling closer to my stomach.

My dad won’t make it through the day.

They say there’s nothing to be done.

I wish evolution provided a why or a backup plan.

My body springs up.

The blanket falls beside me.

I can only examine darkness.

My body is tired.

I lay myself down.

My eyes relax shut.

My sister was in an accident.

It happened in an instant.

There was nothing to prevent it.

My body turns to face the other wall.

In through my nose.

Out through my mouth.

A boy drew a gun at my brother’s school.

They tried to barricade the classroom, but locks

don’t stop bullets, and my brother was closest to the door.

What Stays

“They found her when she was a puppy,”

I tell you. You wince when you hear they hit her.

They say dogs who bare their teeth

are bad. She licked your face when you sat

on the floor and covered you in her hair.

Now when you collect your phone and keys

on Sunday mornings, she watches you

like she watches me. The sound of paws

up your staircase faded into your frequent

presence on my sheets. At the grocery store,

you remind me to get more of my favorite, so I

don’t have to come back for it. I pull the pie

from the oven and cut two pieces; you call for Mila

to join you on my bed. When neither of us can sleep,

you run to the store and offer to get more of the favorite

I said I wouldn’t need. I pack two lunches into plastic

containers and slide them into my bag before kissing

Mila’s head. You hold open the front door, and

I follow you to the car where I press play

on another podcast. You offer me your headphones.

Fridays are shorter for me, and you don’t work them.

You text me, wondering

where I want to meet you. I can see you

smiling through the window of your Toyota,

and I start walking faster. I make us

pumpkin shakes, and you smile

when I suggest the same sitcom for the third time.

You spend the night helping me carry things destined

for my parents’ home. When we get to

their house, you lie in the cold

basement while I sit with them and my brother.

In the morning, I can’t fit

the last box in my best friend’s car, so we

start pulling items out to wiggle them

into open spaces. I can only say goodbye

so many ways before I climb in

with almost everything I own.

My new bedroom has two windows.

I toss my favorite blanket over my bed.

I keep a book I still haven’t finished

over my headboard. I get used to not hearing

your voice faster than I thought I would.

Your sentences are short

when we’re on the phone, and you don’t tell me

stories about your week.

Mila’s eyes follow me as I gather my things

for work, and I walk with my phone

in my chest pocket, so I can hear the music.

On my trek back home in the dark, I call

my mom or I call my best friend, and we laugh.

I throw my clothes in the hamper and make myself

a plate. Mila scampers wildly from the kitchen

back to my room.

I smile and ask her what she thinks

of a walk in the park tomorrow.

I lie down and fall asleep

to the same movie I did last night.

About the Author

Allison Bliss

Allison Bliss is a poet from the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. She works as a language arts tutor.