I Wish You Were Dead
I hear it through an open window. He screams I wish you were dead. I listen to the mean music from the street, sour garbage slung on my shoulder. His wife murmurs something, quiet. Mid-thirties, my mouth rejects all sweetness, molars ringing like tuning forks. Friar Laurence said too much honey is loathsome in its deliciousness. My Juliet tooth: it won’t taste excess. It is not sweet. It is not sweet. I wear a mask to ferry the trash to a dumpster. I wear a mask to redeem the cans of sweet booze, backbone of the ritual of night. We wait in line for $95.70: a season’s worth of despair. I wish you were dead, an unmasked woman’s face seems to say. I wash my sugary hands until they weep. The earth sometimes is telling us I wish you were dead. I whisper to the man who pretends to be the president I wish you were dead. Hard to believe there have been days I was sure I’d never die and drank the Boardman River clean. Illness washes us in its tide, swishes and spits the bowl of night. Anti-sweet tooth. Bitter tooth. Loathsome tooth that tells me what I know. I wish you were dead, he tells his wife. She replies, so quiet I cannot hear. Her wounds sound sweet as beesting.
CAITLIN COWAN is the author of Happy Everything, forthcoming in February 2024 from Cornerstone Press. Caitlin holds a PhD in English from the University of North Texas, an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School, and BAs in English and Creative Writing from the University of Michigan, and has taught writing at UNT, Texas Woman’s University, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and elsewhere. She works in arts nonprofit administration at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, where she serves as Director of International Programs and as Chair of Creative Writing. Caitlin also writes PopPoetry, a weekly pop culture and poetry newsletter, from Michigan's west coast where she lives with her husband, their young daughter, and their two mischievous cats.