She knows you—the sound of your quick step, your considered breath, your cottony voice, unfolding like a Best of All quilt that comforts her; comforts you, too. Your tongues grow thick with imposition— greasy burgers wrapped in leafy lettuce and house chardonnay. It’s vulgar, but necessary, considering the white space in her twitchy conversations. She finds you convenient, a trusted corner store. She says she loves keeping you on your tiptoes; yet, you’re strangely fearful that she will abandon you, even though she’s a good neighbor. What would you do without her constant distraction? Alas—you know this, too.

M. J. Iuppa lives on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. She is Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor at St. John Fisher College. Her lyric essays have appeared in In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal, edited by Mary Paumier Jones and Judith Kitchen (Norton, 1999), Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction, edited by Judith Kitchen (Norton, 2005) and Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction, edited by Judith Kitchen and Dinah Lenney (Norton, 2015), and her recently released third full-length poetry collection Small Worlds Floating (Cherry Grove Collections, August 2016).

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