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When I saw her, or rather

the last time I saw her,

I was living on a screen porch

in the back of a dilapidated house,

one of those houses that makes you feel good

because it’s so bad. It was a hot summer day,

a day for watching the weeds and stickers grow,

and she knocked on the screen door (itself

barely hanging on the porch), knocked several

times probably because I was watching TV,

an afternoon movie, something truly vacant and hideous,

and there she was, wearing her red tank top,

flapping our divorce papers to cool off. She looked nice,

too attractive to divorce; and so we sat

on my lumpy couch, and for the only time

in our short but picturesque history, filled with

a comic and occasionally passionate disharmony,

we read together, word by word, that stern and absolute document.

Settling in to watch the rest of the dreadful movie,

we made drinks, our final gin and tonics,

and signed our names during the ads.

I was leaving town the next day, my passport and ticket

taking me as far away as possible.

When the show was over, we kissed and hugged,

overbrimming with gladness and good feeling,

and made no further promises to each other.


Tom Speer is a widely published poet who studied with Robert Mezey, Philip Levine, and Peter Everwine at Fresno State University in the late ’60s. For the past many years, Speer has lived in Tucson, Arizona, where he has established himself as a respected teacher of poetry. “Divorce” comes from his collection
My Father’s Shoes: New and Selected Poems, published by Pima Press, and is reprinted by permission.

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