Ali Shapiro


If you’re quiet. If you’re lucky. If
you’re good. If you don’t look
directly at me, only write
my name in pencil, never leave
your toothbrush at my house. If it’s
summer, is it sunny? If it’s sunny, am I at least
less sad? The same bird keeps coming back
to my window, so I can’t
be all that bad. Knock on wood
and draw the circle for protection, break the bone
exactly down the middle, blow the lash
but don’t tell anyone your wish. If
you promise, if you suffer, if you skip
dessert. If our sadness can be rocked
to sleep and we can sneak
into the other room and be
alone. If there’s a ring around the stone
inside your pocket, if you’re very
very quiet, if you promise
to be lucky, if you’re good
enough. If you don’t check
to make sure I’m behind you. If you don’t show
the coin beneath your palm. If you don’t look back
to see the city burning. If your body
doesn’t turn to salt.