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All those nights of different lovers, thinking they wanted me
because I was special, they fucked me because they wanted to stay.
All that empty fucking that meant nothing and I thought it meant
something real was about to happen, as if fucking itself wasn’t real at all.
The night Dominic said I was aloof I decided I wanted him,
to prove to him I wasn’t, when every time before,
he’d come into the bar where I worked and I’d thought he was an idiot.
I’d make his Bloody Mary with extra horseradish anyway
and put him down to harmless. Began to see that maybe he was
a nice enough guy. But I didn’t get why he attracted so many girls.
Then the aloof thing, in someone else’s bar, and by god I’d show him.
He’s one of the D’s I remember. I know there was a string of Daves
and a Dan, a Del and a Dean – whom I actually loved – and the other
letters seemed equally represented but the only time I put them
in an order was when I couldn’t sleep. The B’s were weighty, the M’s
always a surprise – five Mikes, a Melody, a Mark or two – by the time
I got to the N’s, I was asleep. I couldn’t count them because the number
kept changing, or I’d forget one, or one would get misplaced
and I’d have to slot them in. Later I found myself forgetting most of them
and faces would pop into mind with no identity,
floating by as I wondered who they were, if they were aggregates
of other parts of other faces, if any of them knew.
And the dark winters, the endings of nights I’d walk home,
the Upper West Side at three in the morning. I’d push through
new two-foot drifts and feel the cold begin to seep into the seams
of my boots, and the snow looked permanent under streetlights.

About Barbara Marsh

Barbara Marsh is a poet, musician and teacher and winner of the 2015 Troubadour International Poetry Prize. Her collection, To the Boneyard, is
published by Eyewear (2013). As a singer/songwriter, she worked primarily in NYC and London, co-forming Anglo-American duo The Dear Janes. Formerly with Geffen Records, they released three albums and toured Europe and the US. She is the author of the first book-length monograph on poet Ruth Stone. The ballet part is true.

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