As a final gesture, he ate the poem, starting with the rhyming couplet at the beginning and
working his way through several slant rhymes and aporia, caesura, and some nice assonance. He
paused at the final line, peering into a sea of faces, then dropped it to the floor. After he left,
caught a taxi to a dive bar and started getting drunk, a young woman from the audience picked it, held it in her hand all through the subway ride as though it were a talisman.
The night was either starless or there was too much light pollution, snow was falling, and
everything was vaguely green. Were there geese overhead, making noise? Maybe, she thought,
as she slipped in the front door.
Before she went to bed, she unfolded the paper, gazed at the words, then ate it quickly. In the
morning, she felt so awakened to the world. She stood in the bathroom mirror and admired the
height of her cheekbones. Then she went to the bathtub and set the water to scalding hot. Her dog was in the next room, patiently waiting for her. She read a book in a foreign language and put some music by Philip Glass on her phone, while she gave birth to poems, which fluttered in the water, before lifting out to join the geese in that far away sky.
Andrew Bertaina’s short story collection One Person Away From You (2021) won the Moon City Press Fiction Award (2020). His work has appeared in The Threepenny Review, Witness Magazine, The Normal School, Open bar at Tin House, and The Best American Poetry. He has an MFA from American University in Washington, DC. His work is available at andrewbertaina.com.