And I have kept secret the terror of being stalked,
dry-mouthed, tongue numb,
seeing the same navy Subaru parked outside my door
with my mother’s soon-to-be ex-husband wearing dark sunglasses
at 3:45 in the afternoon, many afternoons, for weeks,
and I have kept secret the bladder twitching, fist-tight,
as I stepped off the quaking school bus,
the end of my freshman year, in front of all my classmates,
bladder curling and tightening behind my jeans,
sweaty rivulets behind my ears, damp hair,
ducking into the stained glass store
to hide behind cracked blues, bird blue, torpedo blue,
then the bakery, the drug store, biding my time.
I have kept secret how well I knew him,
could predict his next move:
if he stays in the car, don’t call the police,
if he keeps circling the building, don’t call the police,
if you call the police, he’ll know for sure this is where you live now,
he’s got you, and he’ll never go away.
I have kept secret the heady ecstasy, light-headed rush
of running across the street, to the apartment door,
then locking it so hard I tasted brass, twiny briny bright bile,
the frantic race to lock windows,
and I have kept secret the loneliness,
logically picking a room in which to hide
by which door locks best, has a window big enough to climb out of,
which would he open first if he broke through
the old rickety wooden door to our apartment building.
I first started to listen to my mother’s Woodstock album then,
soft and low, the heavy black plastic plate spinning round.
I listened lying on the floor holding onto its soft cardboard sheath,
thick paper, worn and tired.
Then one afternoon, I watched him, from my window, drive away,
drive straight, not turn the corner to loop.
I have kept secret the boozy, tidal euphoria of a road remaining empty.
I walked down our stairs, out into the rain,
took off my shoes, barefoot,
feeling the little wet rounds of gravel,
the wet “hello’s” of dirt and grass and dandelion stems.
I walked round to the back,
stood under the water that poured from the roof,
three stories of cold Spring upstate New York downpour.
It was heavy and hit my head like a bongo drum,
numbed my ears slightly.
With the lightning and thunder like wolves I shrieked and gargled to join in,
snarled. It was my own private waterfall. It was a back massage,
a birth canal, and it was a thousand, no a million morning showers.
I walked calmly back, soaked bright
pink-cold and hot inside, my cut-off jeans solid with water.
I was awake, muddy-toed, and ready.
Sherine Elise Gilmour graduated with an M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University. She was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming from Green Mountains Review, Many Mountains Moving, Paterson Literary Review, River Styx, So To Speak, and other journals.