The Virgin Mary

By Angel Cox

She hates to feel vulnerable, says
that when she’s at my house she feels like a kid
because she has to say please and thank you. Frames displeasure
in the first real smile I’ve seen in years, instantly gone like cigarette smoke
reaching desperately for air at the street corners of her curled lips.

She says she loves a man in a way that sounds like
I forgot I was worthy of love. Same reason why she’s here.
He locked her out in the rain. She has nowhere else. She calls me,
crawls from Troy to Albany and all I had to give her was the left side of my bed.
Her voice is pain pressed down, running over like Southern Comfort.
He buys it for her. She is only nineteen. He is nearing thirty.

She lays stiff, sober, listens to TV in the dark like me because silence is loneliness
and she is so tired of being alone. Wills herself not to think and her heart
turns to stone. I try to hold her together. I am weak. She is only nineteen, alone,
and maybe all is already lost.

But then the next morning comes in TV phantom thunder. Have we become ghosts?
We brush our teeth, sit at the table. Everything is normal. Breakfast is served, the last
of the eggs, toast and bacon. She says please and thank you like a kid,
hates to feel vulnerable, contorts her face into a shape that looks like
red tears falling in droves across her face.