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Best of Irish Poetry 2010
Editor: Matthew Sweeney
Songs of Earth and Light
Barbara Korun poems translated by Theo Dorgan
Done Dating DJs
by Jennifer Minniti-Shippey
Winner, 2008 Fool for Poetry Competition
Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
Edited and translated by Aidan Hayes
Munster Literature Centre
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Born and raised in Dublin, Ethel Rohan now lives in San Francisco. She received her MFA in fiction from Mills College, CA. Her work has or will appear in Storyglossia, Keyhole 9, The Emerson Review, Los Angeles Review, and Potomac Review, among many others.
At the Peephole
I parked outside Eddie’s redbrick apartment building, and skulked inside my end-stage Honda Civic, working up the courage. The car windows fogged. I checked my reflection in the rear-view mirror and, my hands shaking, removed my black beanie. It made my face too round. The wind picked-up right as my sneakers hit the tarmac. I reached into the backseat for the pink and purple donkey piñata, and slipped inside the building behind the Greek-looking pizza guy.
Mrs. Jacobsen from twelve-seventeen passed us on her way out, and looked twice at the piñata, but didn’t recognize me. Up until seven weeks ago, we had been neighbors for two years. The pizza guy and I rode the too-small elevator in silence. He didn’t even glance at the donkey. I could smell sausage and pineapple, his sweat and pomade. He exited on ten. Used to be, no guy could stay around me that long without starting something.
The elevator stopped on twelve with a clang. The doors opened. I froze. The doors started to close. I pressed the hold button. The elevator alarm went-off, much like a donkey’s bray. I pushed out, trembling, the piñata heavy now, its crepe paper damp against my hands.
Eddie’s familiar footfall sounded behind the apartment door. I sensed him at the peephole. The donkey felt suddenly enormous and ridiculous against my chest. Eddie finally appeared, his t-shirt tight on his muscles, blond hair mussed, and those topaz eyes. He looked back and forth between the donkey and me. My mouth opened, but the words didn’t form. I pushed the piñata into his arms. He made some astonished gasp. I had filled the donkey with stones, measured the weight to fifteen pounds, exactly how much more there was of me now.
“An ass for an ass,” I said.
“Let’s not do this—”
“I’m breaking-up with you.”
He shook his head, his eyes animal-sad.
My face warmed. “What? Because you say we’re over that’s it? No, I’m here to finish with you. Now we’re over.”
His eyes darted up and down the corridor. “You’re shouting—”
I ran at him, slapping. He gripped the piñata under one arm, and held me off with his free hand, like I was a stupid kid.
I stepped backwards, breathless.
He held the donkey like a boulder. “I don’t want this.”
I walked away, head high. His door clicked closed, quiet as a stab. It took all my strength not to look back, see if he’d abandoned the donkey out in the corridor.
Back on the street, the night wind came at me again, whipping at my clothes the way Eddie used to undress me. From further down the street, kids’ laughter sounded. We were going to get married someday, have kids. Two. How can that kind of love come to nothing?
The rain pelted. Sky the color of oil. Road choked with vehicles. Sidewalk crawling with people. Hurry, hurry. The wind charged again, nipped at my cheeks and earlobes. I struggled to get my car key into the lock, my head turned down against the elements. Still the city bustled about me, not missing a beat.
©2010 Ethel Rohan
Cut Through the Bone by Ethel Rohan
Ethel Rohan's blog
'Say': short story by Rohan in Madswirl
Ethel Rohan 'On Motherhood, Writing, and Wrestling Bears' in Pank