[You’re supposed to thank the fumes. To be grateful]

p
o
e
m
s

You’re supposed to thank the fumes. To be grateful
for the toxic patch on the rail track.
For the craquelure
in the asphalt, seeping green—
it reroutes you, proffers with each commute a forced
adventure. Who’s to say what you’ll find
in your course of avoidance?
Ideally a willing stranger.
Maybe a glimpse of the most
expensive painting per square inch.
When you can no longer meet your needs
by working, you should feel joyous. No more daily
wear and tear on the blazer.
Now you can keep it pristine. Superlatively
inky. It’ll look smart at funerals.
Of course they’ll invite you to make some brief
remarks, and when you move to retrieve
from your pocket the paper,
out will come a whole sheath of solemn statements—
you’ve lost this year
how many? You’ll shuffle
through the pile. Where is the life
that lived in the body before you? Where is the right
one gone?

Natalie Shapero is the author of the poetry collections No Object (Saturnalia, 2013) and Hard Child (Copper Canyon Press, 2017). Her writing has appeared in The Believer, The New Republic, Poetry, The Progressive, and elsewhere, and she is an editor at the Kenyon Review. She teaches at Tufts University.

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