Hard Living

Can you believe it: I used to stay up past eleven. I could sleep like a drawer of clean socks. Wait until noon to eat my assortment of suspicious fruits. The sky was a moldy cabbage. We talked on things connected to walls, had brief dreams about swings. The kids in the park threw sliced bread at anything that moved, including the wind. I swear the water lapped right up to the grass, so if you were distracted by a book you’d get wet really fast. Because of the lake. And we spoke so infrequently about generations, though I knew mine was renowned for its hard living, which I took to be a difficulty, such as the way every drug mart store had a separate job application with subtle differences, so you had to rewrite it every time you applied. I had a midnight shift selling gin. I was eighteen with a red crew neck under my polyester vest. We were allowed no embellishments. The other day I stopped by a drug mart and the cashier had a leather vest with fringe and a unicorn in sequins on the back. That job involved too much math. The sky was an obnoxiously long receipt with too few items. I wanted to tear it in half.

Mary Biddinger is the author of five full-length poetry collections, including Small Enterprise and The Czar. Her poems have recently appeared in Diode, Five Points, Gold Wake Live, Grimoire, and The Laurel Review, among others. She lives in Akron, Ohio, where she teaches at the University of Akron & NEOMFA program and edits the Akron Series in Poetry. Biddinger’s first collection of prose poems, Partial Genius, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2019.