Marina Blitshteyn

the collector

every day i’d rub my thumbs
clean of them, their brittle rubber crumbling in my hands.

every day i’d count their faces
as my own–a pink trickster, a multicolored man, a little yellow one
i called a baby. i wanted

to take care of them all, give them baths
in styrofoam houses, buy them pools
and rooms fun enough for them to stay.

we were alone in the world, we loved each
other like kin. we grew to populate ourselves like 53
ragged animals, like 53 aimless dogs, 53 names for the same

sentiment, like there were 53 versions of ghosts
and i’d read about them all, i knew their tricks, there were 53 hot
bodied molecules crashing into each other on our
last full day together in the back room separated by thick curtains

when i said a prayer to us and dropped them all on the floor–
all 53 meditations on aloneness, 53 kinds of family shame,
53 abandoned personalities, adopted languages, absolved sins, 53 staunch
supporters of immigration reform, 53 dollars worth of foodstamps, 53 sheets
of lines in a pad, 53 scams to a page, 53 postcards to lisa frank, 53 sympathies.