End of the Affair

Night again and I’m alone. No trace
of barbs along my flesh, and my heart
goes on with the same dull, endless
ease, like the old cow gnawing its cud.
I listen, believing I hear it thump a message:
Over, over, over, but maybe
again, again, again. Hard to discern
above the sound of nighttime,
the hushed rustling of wind moving
from tree to tree—a whisper that says
keep moving, barely heard over the silence,
which is louder tonight
than it’s ever been—drowning
the songs of birds
before they settle.
Your absence
on the other side of my bed,
as heavy as the pictures you carried of your wife
that kept me awake, or the vacations
that kept you away. Tonight, it’s as if
I’ve never known nighttime without you,
or what an affair is, doomed
from the beginning, like sitting down
to write a story in which you already know
the tragic ending. Somehow, the details
always surprise. Just as your son
looks surprised each time you read
the same story, looking up to you
with grief-struck eyes
when Red Riding Hood gets devoured.
Soon, she’ll be cut
from the wolf’s gut, you’ll brush
his blond locks across his forehead, tuck
the sheets beneath the mattress, shut
off the light, and go to bed.

Anne Champion has a BA in Creative Writing and Behavioral Psychology from Western Michigan University and received her MFA in Poetry at Emerson College. She has work previously published in Minnetonka Review, PANK Magazine, The Aurorean, The Comstock Review, Poetry Quarterly, Line Zero, Thrush Poetry Journal and elsewhere. She was also a 2009 recipient of The Academy of American Poets Prize at Emerson College and was recently nominated for an Emerging Writer Grant from The St. Boltolph Foundation. She currently teaches writing and literature at Emerson College, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, and Pine Manor College in Boston, MA.

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