by Christine Tierney
what was that musty smell rainwater dead mice why
did we keep the rusted old car in the garage and the
newer one outside I want to know what I was wearing
my flannel pjs my sweatpants a goddamn tutu who
stirred I said who stirred did the wooden steps creak
as I made my way down were the car keys jangling in
my pocket as I crept honestly can you look me
straight in the eye and tell me that no one heard
those jangling keys what made me slip the missing
tread and had I even taken time to write a note a list
of who gets what lazy I mean lazy lazy with a capital L
why was the vinyl seat so cold when I first climbed in
was it winter was it 2:00 am could I see my breath
and was that freakin’ TV still yammering up there did
I sit for a while on the cold seat before turning the
engine on you mean to tell me no one upstairs heard
the rumble of that engine who was home anyway I
want to know who was home and why did the thought
of my cat stalking finches make me bawl was it a
school night was my homework done (that’s a joke!)
why can I still see that purple God’s-eye dangling
from the rearview mirror did I switch off the engine
after ten minutes or five am I making all this up can
you hear me am I deaf am I speaking in tongues are
my lips moving am I stuttering do you think I’m nuts
and those thick nauseating fumes was I dizzy did I
puke what made me stop are you serious not one
person upstairs heard the thunder through those
drafty floors and were the creepy brown spiders
watching me I coughed right?

Christine Tierney’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Fourteen
Hills, Permafrost, PMS, Poet Lore, Tusculum Review, descant,
Soundzine, The Broome Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Shadowbox,
Sanskrit, Cider Press Review, Tattoo Highway and other journals. She
holds an MFA from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast
Writing Program, and is employed as an after-school director.