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Siobhan Phillips

You’ve been reading other people’s lives
like an eternal novice, like an addict, the high
weaker each time,
the low deeper, this worry about exhaustion
that keeps you from rest, but at least
going all the way wrong
is something, I mean
that’s one of the things you got wrong.

At three or four a.m. you can listen to the shifts
of long haul truckers
rattle the house like a sigh,
this place in which no one bothered to replace
backwards dimmer switches
on nineteenth-century baseboards,
the place you chose
because you took the weed-ridden back garden
as a parable of integrity.

This evening, this evening doesn’t count.
Your colleague who passed from acupuncture to reiki.
Your colleague who no longer pretends to care about the brand of vodka.
He tells you the reason
for a preservation code:
no one had the money to tear it down.
You suspect, in a spasm of self-hatred
returning like thirst
that in the choice of successful and righteous,
you’d choose the first.
Of course, you won’t get that chance.
Of course, it’s not even a choice.