for Phoebe 

us, a pair of matching uniforms 
                                                               behind a counter. 
                a sign reads “Guest Services,”
but really means 
                                an expected performance. we raise 
our larynx                 to give                                 the sound of
                                                                something apologetic. 

a customer talks to you like they know you. 
                                                                                but you are bolder. we keep our messes 
hidden and wash our                 slacks on our days off. 

                                                                                                                i wanted to be bold. 
                                                                                                                i wanted to hug you 
                                                                until we both felt better. 

                                                                but when i touched your shoulder 
                                                                                                                you shuddered; still 

                                rigid in service. 

now how could a tear exist                                 much less a hug.                                 instead,
                                                i relieved you 
                                assumed the position 
as we spoke of Sophie’s death like it didn’t happen that morning.
                                                like nothing ever happens. 
                                                                           we squinted 
                                            our eyes 
                                                                to each other 
                                                         and i was so glad to see you leave.

Things i do to hurt

Ian is a queer poet based in Arizona. He is the author of a little chapbook called “SERVICE” published by Panchanga Press. He writes about labor and melodrama and you can follow him on twitter @haugen_dasz if you’re into that sort of stuff.

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