“Apartment 2B” by Albert Abonado

Albert Abonado


I think my neighbor is dead, or maybe I don’t know
what to do with a neighbor so quiet compared
to the ones that came before her, like that couple
who found a reason to fight every day, and I laughed the day
I heard the man cry out about the black eye his girlfriend gave him,
and when I saw him the next day down in the basement
doing laundry I wanted to ask: hey man,
what happened to your face?
but instead I said:
I think you dropped a sock.
                                                     I didn’t have the heart, if that’s what
you want to call it, to point out the thing I already knew, but it doesn’t matter,
they moved a few weeks later, replaced by the lesbian couple
who did nothing but vacuum and have sex, so whenever I sat
in my living room to eat a bagel or read the review of a movie
I’ll probably never see, I had to listen to the whir of their Hoover
or the way they moaned their affirmations to one another.
                                                     Those were the times I listened closest
except when my girlfriend came into the room and wanted to know
why I was so concerned about the wall and I would tell her
Something violent happened, but don’t worry, it’s all over now
but she knows me, and what I do late at night when she sleeps
You were listening to the lesbians again, which is the reason why
I had a sheepish grin on my face most of the time until they packed up,
box spring and all, which brings me back to the old woman,
who is sweet the few times I talked to her and shares my taste in sitcoms
from what I hear, although I don’t want to imagine her
having sex with anyone, because she reminds me
of my grandmother, well, before my grandmother
lost her eyesight, and talked about chickens all the time.
                                                     I attended her funeral but didn’t cry
because, by then, she was more of an idea than a woman tethered to my life,
and anyway, this isn’t about my grandmother, but the old woman
of whose death I’m almost certain, and the sudden concern
I have for her, and whether or not I’ll smell her dying.

from Rattle #31, Summer 2009

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