“How to Steal the Laptop of Your Childhood Nemesis”

A weekly poem, read by the author.
May 14 2013 8:15 AM

“How to Steal the Laptop of Your Childhood Nemesis”

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Courtesy of Michael Geminder/Flickr

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Eric McHenry read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

She keeps a spare key in a hollow rock
outside the kitchen door she doesn’t lock.
Her lights are on. Her sheltie is all talk.
You shouldn’t need the code for the alarm
(1234) because she tried to arm
the thermostat again. You’re getting warm.
Her master suite smells like a Hallmark store.
Her vanity is huge. Try to ignore
the fact that everything’s a metaphor
and that I’ve let you walk right into it.
Blow out the Yankee Candles she left lit.
Take in the master bathroom. Take a shit.
Flush adamantly. Agitate the handle.
Refill the Softsoap. Light a Yankee Candle.
Her MacBook Pro is hiding, like the Grail,
in plain sight. Anyone but you will fail
to look directly at that bathroom scale.
Open her desktop. Close her Yahoo! Mail.
She keeps her recent photos in a folder
called “Photos.” Click a thumbnail and behold her
in sunlight in a champagne off-the-shoulder
sheath wedding dress, fussed over by attendants.
She’s 40 and has come into resplendence
like an inheritance, like heirloom pendants
flattering ear and flawless collarbone.
I should have told you, or you should have known,
that she has changed the most and aged the least
of all your enemies, her face uncreased
by laughter, worry, shame, or self-denial.
Those are her cheekbones. That’s her cryptic smile.
Those are her footsteps on the kitchen tile.

Eric McHenry is the author of Potscrubber Lullabies, which received the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He teaches at Washburn University.

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