Breadcrumb #362

CODY LA VADA

I linger like a foreign lipstick stain on the starched collar
of a businessman’s suit that his wife cannot bleach out –
or a stranger’s perfume, clinging with
rare persistence to your own bedsheets.

They call me Our Lady of Perpetual Inadequacy –
forever the Other Woman.
Your husband brings me home to you, and you taste me
on his lips with every forced goodnight kiss.

I am the wilted flowers in a late birthday bouquet,
and wrinkled notes,
tucked into sock drawers and back pockets.
I am the manicure that never chips.

I am suspicious phone bills and late-night texts,
receipts for things you’ve never seen.
I am the wrong name panted in the dark,
and the curdling nausea of doubt after you fuck.

I am a misplaced wedding ring, dulled by the shame
of out-of-town business meetings conducted
in pay-by-the-hour motels.
I am the curls that never unravel

and I am only lonely
until you are.

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