—West Hollywood, November 2019
By: Maggie Glover
I get a whiskey. I do not call my father back. I text you. I try on my new dress in the bathroom among the western decor. I get another whiskey. I write a poem about cowboys. I text you. I finger out the cherry from the glass. I take the cherry the bartender offers me, red-glow-glop in a bare palm. I don’t text you for 24 minutes (I count it). I let someone down. I smoke a cigarette. I think of my mother smoking: outside restaurants, department stores, in the kitchen on Sunday mornings, late-at-night while typing, the cigarette dangling from her mouth with its long, tender arm of ash. I order a whiskey. I don’t answer my phone. I ask the bartender for another cherry but I’m way ahead of you, he says, offering a dish of alien jewel-fruit. I like the dish: shaped like a cowboy hat, porcelain. I am being trusted with breakable things. I joke: I don’t need to eat dinner now thanks to all these snacks. I know I’m not joking. I don’t text you. I write a poem in which I am the cowboy and you are the O.K. Corral and I make good choices and my father is sober and my mother remembers me. I smoke another cigarette and the bartender joins me. I know what this is. I say it out loud: I know what this is. I pretend I mean something different from what I mean. I order a whiskey. I listen when he explains his tattoo. I text you. I let him touch my shoulder. I go to the bathroom and change into my dress. I ask him to clip the tags from the hem. I write a poem in which I know exactly what I’m doing though I don’t know it yet, do you?
Maggie Glover is a poet and nonfiction writer. Her debut collection of poems, How I Went Red, was published by Carnegie Mellon UP in 2014. Her work is featured in several anthologies, including Best American Experimental Writing 2015 (Wesleyan UP), 12 Women: An Anthology of Poems (Carnegie Mellon UP, 2014), and Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods (West Virginia UP, 2015). Her publications include Ninth Letter, jubilat, Glass Poetry, Smartish Pace, and at least one bicep tattoo. She lives in Los Angeles.