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Ink

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by Elizabeth Wylder

Everything nocturnal is better with the windows open:
Irish whiskey and soda, that Peter O’Toole movie

you watch although you can recite it from memory,
video games, sex. And writing—that act so often

heralded as solitary—seems less so on nights like these:
ceiling fans skimming the just-right night air across

the hardwood floor, joy-sliding the way you do in your socks
after printing a line you’re finally proud of: wobbly

and eager. Inviting the block inside—the salsa music
from across the street remixing your desktop indie rock,

the barely audible Brown Line rushing south to the Loop,
plastic bag ladies in the alley, Horseshoe bar drunks

and their off-key, on-car tinkles. (Literally; though
you hate that word—tinkle—and hope it’s not your car.)

You got so few of these nights in the deep South swelter,
thermostat set to igloo nine months per year, but here

they snap the vertical blinds like crisp, 20 lb., white pages.
Here, the gusts are both foreign and familiar: old friend

enough to keep you irresponsible and spilling, new conquest
enough to clench your attention. And you will stay up—high,

on booze, rhyme and breezes—until morning rears its brilliant,
horrid head: punching away at lines good and bad, one drink

after another, each with less ice than before, once again snubbing
your patented, vast detest for tumbling into slumber with khaki

curtains blazing—stained with all the life outside that will make
your once blissed-out and now bloodshot eyes water weakly

in your tapped and dehydrated skull when you wake; all the life
outside that, only hours earlier, you wanted to kiss full on the lips.

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