I // How I escaped the bomb, or WHAT HAPPENED TO NORMA

There was no bomb originally
or the bomb was Norma
or the bomb was a cup of something
that wasn’t quite something
that wasn’t quite a cup.

But there was no bomb originally,
just stone metal grates and
deep charcoal mushroom clouds and
winter hats to keep it all in.

Just dying mountains and
smoldering bus stops and
love growing in the sewers –

Nothing happened to Norma.
There was no bomb.

II // How I became you, or WHAT HAPPENED TO NORMA

I only became you once you were gone.
And you were only gone because you were with Norma.

Norma               Norma               Norma

Norma is you is me
and I only became you once you were gone.

I was your coffee cup.
I was your hair.
I was your leather jacket
            on the coat hook
            by the door.
I was your nose.
I was your inability to yes.
I was your cigarette.

III // How I dismantled the cold, or WHAT HAPPENED TO NORMA

Norma always wore blue knit scarfs.
You always wore blue knit scarfs.
I always wore my mouth on sideways
with cracks in my teeth.

            Maybe I was the bomb
            and I didn’t know it.

The pipes were frozen yesterday
so I couldn’t use the rose body wash
your mother sent me for Christmas.

I hope it won’t upset you
that I haven’t combed my hair today.
that sometimes my mouth is a loading dock.
that my sweaters smell like American Spirit.
that I have detonators for teeth.
that I know nothing about eighteenth century literature
or dachshunds or iPhones or the number of
callouses on Norma’s hands or the Arabic alphabet
or applied physics or tapas or craft beer or
the way you cry when I’m not home.

IV // How I came to know the ceiling, or WHAT HAPPENED TO NORMA

We stared at it, the ceiling,
every afternoon as the chorus
of concrete footsteps rose with hot air.
You and me and Norma.

            Maybe you were the bomb
and this is how I came to know it –
with my hands on your thighs
and your hands on Norma’s lips
and our heads all cocked towards
the ceiling’s white stubble,
seeing shapes of clouds
because we could not find the sky.

V // How I fell in love with a Xerox machine, or WHAT HAPPENED TO NORMA

You told me you couldn’t afford to
let your mother’s money go into
my mouth anymore.

I don’t know where Norma was in all of this.

I would sit in McDonalds with a coffee every evening
as you painted your ceiling to match the weather.
A homeless man sat across from me and asked
for ten dollars. I told him the only money I had
was in my mouth, so he followed me to my car
and tried to pull my teeth.

I was crying when I got to you.

Unrelated, I thought of killing myself while making copies.
My thoughts were more alive than you or me or Norma.
They told me to go to the hospital, so I tried
to outrun the ambulance.

I was crying when I got to you,
but this time you turned my wrists to
the ceiling, making sure I hadn’t fallen back
into my blood.

VI // How I met someone else, or WHAT HAPPENED TO NORMA

Norma introduced us,
or that’s what we tell people.
He has such warm skin
and my hands melt
into rubies.

            Thursday: We walked around a lake
                        and held our melting hands together.
                                    The sun was singing maybe for us.

I don’t know if there’s a bomb.
I don’t know where Norma is.
I don’t know
I don’t know
I don’t know

            Saturday: We woke to the smell of
                        charcoal burning and kept hearing
                                    echoes of the sun.

About Lo Poholek

Laura Poholek lives in Tallahassee. They can also be found on Twitter and Tumblr.

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