Providence by Bree Rolfe

There’s a sign
in the lobby that reads:


in unblinking neon.

The day before you arrive,
I don’t notice.

After you’re gone,
it’s there — suddenly constant,
freakishly pink.

The hotel bartender,
from Kansas, tells me
he builds large scale

He’s trying to reconstruct
the one room schoolhouse
his mother taught in
on a field outside

Later, you and I will run
through a downpour,
back to this bar, where
you’ll tell me you changed
your mind, then turn
me around and push me
into an elevator.

You’ll say:
I don’t want to
share your attention

I want to tell you:
I know about parasites.

Or maybe, I know how
the body can betray itself

Ten years ago,
a San Francisco hotel
in a twin bed:

I remember the texture
of your undershirt
and a shaking so slight,
I might’ve imagined it.

I want to say:
I understand —
how a body can tell the truth

Even when you don’t
want it to — even
when you try to force it not to —

It won’t lie.
It won’t let you lie.

Bree A. Rolfe
Bree A. Rolfe lives in Austin, TX, where she teaches writing and literature to the mostly reluctant but always lovable, teenagers at James Bowie High School. Originally from Boston, MA, she worked as a music journalist for ten years before deciding she wanted to dedicate her life to teaching and writing. Her work has appeared in Saul Williams’ poetry anthology Chorus: A Literary Mixtape, the Barefoot Muse anthology, Forgetting Home: Poems About Alzheimer’s, and the Redpaint Hill anthology, Mother is a Verb. She holds an MFA from the Writing Seminars at Bennington College.