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Everyone wants to live on a cul de sac,


says tonight’s hostess, a dancer turned realtor.
She introduces me to a lawyer who writes

really good wills:
Fifty percent of our generation
will live to be 100
.  In the background

Van Morrison sings,
you you you you you you you.
My husband says
, Imagine being married

to someone 25 years, then starting over with someone else.
Years ago we swore we wouldn’t say,

My wife. My husband.
We drink good wine, too much, it’s true,

and the architect I knew as a student in Iowa
tells someone else he wants to go back to drawing.

An editor gives a wicked movie review,
there’s even a line or two of poetry—

me showing off quoting Philip Larkin,
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

I’ve forgiven my parents
, a therapist says,
but how I regret my children

left home before I gave them what I should.
The slightest silence, an intake of breath,

then someone mentions Nasdaq.
I slip out through the French doors.

The scent of wisteria makes me woozy.
It’s midnight, almost May Day, I’m not yet 50—

oh, God, I should quit my job tomorrow.


Debra Kaufman, a poet and playwright, is the author of the poetry collections Family of Strangers (Nightshade), Still Life Burning (Poetry Society of South Carolina), A Certain Light (Emrys), and, most recently, Moon Mirror Whiskey Wind (Pudding House). She is working on a full-length play, The Fairest. A member of the Black Socks poets, she lives with her family and cats in Mebane, North Carolina.


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