Where Love Brought Me by William Braun
To waiting rooms with no windows and chipped tiles, walls with smudge marks like erasers and gashes I could have patched and painted in the time we spent there. To a bed with a rail you erected but couldn’t collapse. Portraits of flowers behind plexiglass cages, a television locked in a case. To the safe with the combination you memorized by watching the nurse as she put away your purse. The pills you took from the purse and swallowed the moment she left. To charcoal blackening your lips like the worst possible Mr. Freezee, the indistinguishable gush of shit and vomit as you expelled them, the nurse by the bathroom door with downcast eyes. Videos of puppies and kittens watched on my cell phone. To the man you called Cap’n who paced the ward wearing a tricorn hat, the boy with “worm” tattooed on his knuckles who you told me had a crush on you, who you told me told you where to find the highest bridge in Minneapolis the next time you’re looking. To texts from friends that tell me you’re standing on a bridge in St. Paul, the warlock fury in your eyes as you burst through the door smelling cold. Jokes about stabbing me, and the worry they really aren’t jokes. To the bruise on your thigh from the night you spent in a room up north with another man, a bruise you say is from a bumping against a table. The texts on your phone set to not show a preview. Your face puffy and your eyes cataracted with sadness as you ask me not to bury you in Oak Harbor. The fear when I wake in the night and you’re gone and I think the bridge before I remember you’re in the hospital. To crudded bowls in oily water, carpet rough and scraggly, mixed with crumbs and ants. To fruitfly larva glued to the lid of the compost bin. To fruitflies swarming the dishes, the bathroom walls, the compost juices. Wiggling bolts in a jar I mistake one morning for cockroaches crawling on cream cheese. To nights watching comedians and not laughing. To days squinting at light.
William Braun lives in Minneapolis, MN. His translations have appeared in Ezra: An Online Journal of Translation and Exchanges Literary Journal, and his book reviews in Rain Taxi and Structo. He is a graduate of the Master’s program in English literature at the University of St. Thomas.