I was a hideous church. I did not even

need to try. My empathy and my apathy

squared off opposite blocks of Western

Avenue, or maybe they were two sides

of a really dull coin. I wanted rituals so

I could hate them. Went the movies just

so I could exit the emergency door into

pure bleached afternoon light. What use

was an apron if nothing was simmering

to catastrophe? Boots damp in the toes,

wet ends of hair, renegade noodle arcs

that slam their oils across blank checks.

I was a common quail that wanted to be

cute, but was actually hunted for food.

When I was a child I wanted nothing

else than to close the night like a door.


Mary Biddinger is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Small Enterprise and The Czar. She lives in Akron, Ohio, where she edits the Akron Series in Poetry. Her first collection of prose poems, Partial Genius, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2019.