The Ex Reflects

By Jennifer C. Chapis

Today I realized my fear of belt buckles.
Honestly, I don't know who or what to hold accountable

for the uncontrollable cringing
that takes over when I hear it—

the keen clang

man in the next stall dropping his slacks,
belt buckle, the tile floor.
And the lighting suddenly like creamed corn.

I haven't been home in years. We owned cats, but
I can't remember
which ones are still alive.

Just like my mother always said,
"I had a great childhood."

These days, love feels like a crimping
iron or an ice cream smorgasbord—

her sweet-shoulders one at a time...

I feel locked,
(a belt has a raw health all its own),

alternate arm wrestle,
abstract contractions,

that urgent effort to refrain
from refrain.