The Delay

By Emily Sernaker

Maybe by the time you read this a golden retriever with a bandana
will be snuggled up against my knees. Or the man I love,
the one I get to keep, will be kissing me goodbye for the day
his lips tasting of cereal and coffee. Instead I’m living

with my college roommate Breezy in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Breezy just gave me a bottle of Unconditional Love
perfume she won at the gym. Her little Tootsie Roll
of a dog, Charlotte, a Boston terrier, keeps hiding bones

in my bed. My bedroom used to be Breezy’s dining room
before the divorce. It’s safe to say neither of us thought
this is where we’d be—but we’re making the most of it.
She owns wind chimes. I bought peonies. Outside our front

door someone has graffitied the words TROUBLE FUCK!
which we prefer to read as FUCK TROUBLE!
And we found that duck in Central Park, the mandarin
rainbow that isn’t supposed to be there but is.

Maybe by the time you read this I won’t be waiting
to be happy. The truth is things are going well.
Everyone I love is alive. Breezy printed a 12×16
of the misplaced firecracker of a duck. She had it framed

and matted it’s hanging in our living room.
He’s staring down the camera
saying: Aren’t you glad you got to see this?
I dare you to wish you were anywhere else.

Emily Sernaker is a writer based in New York. Her work has appeared in Ms.
Magazine, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle,
and McSweeney’s.

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