after I got divorced were the same.
We summarized our days,
described the sad meal for one
I cooked on my strict depression diet,
my nonexistent plans
for the weekend that culminated
in the long pause before she’d ask—
“Are you lonely?”
My usual reply,
“Not until you asked me.”
She followed with stinging worry
for my long nights
in the dark, big house that echoed
of no one else here, and how
I slept in an immensely cold bed,
seemingly larger than nightmares, leaving me
tossed in the sinking feeling inside
that could only be defined
as a heart shattering. I always answered, “I’m fine,”
tone tainted with held-back tears that cataloged
the ways I could off myself that very night
if she kept pushing me.

My mother always called me “Juancito,”
and I’d tell her to ask how I was doing
instead of listing every corner
of isolation. When I could finally say to myself,
“You are ordinary in your failings,” I could
honestly tell her I was getting “better.”
She worried less and called less,
leading us to future phone calls
where we could speak past lulls on the line
and mock the fear
of dying and living alone.
Juan J. Morales is the son of an Ecuadorian mother and Puerto Rican father, which inspired much of the poems in his poetry collections, The Siren World and Friday and the Year That Followed. He is also the author of The Handyman's Guide to End Times (Forthcoming, University of New Press, 2018). His poems have also appeared in Copper Nickel, Poet Lore, Pank, Hayden's Ferry Review, Poetry Daily, Post Road,, Green Mountains Review, and Pleaides. He is a CantoMundo Fellow, the Editor of Pilgrimage Magazine, and the Chair of English and World Languages at Colorado State University-Pueblo.

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