Across the old woman’s ceiling, the stain
spreads its puckered areola,
water hooping frayed ripples in the plaster
where something broke, leaked
in the apartment upstairs, where naked
lights shine cold-clear as through windows
cobalted with Madonna and child.
This godforsaken place.
Why doesn’t the landlord
fix the pipes, clean those drains?
It’s the young single mother, blonde
as fuel in a match, who tells
what she’s heard about the woman upstairs:
thirty-four. Barmaid at the green
of the local golf course.
Boyfriend. Breakup. Back pains
and stomach. A mistake.
An accident. Hadn’t told
the doctor. Something gone wrong,
spilled out, half-formed and rather
than call for help, admit on the phone,
she tried to flush it
down the drain. The half-forgotten
sleeping thing, flipped sideways,
its face a doll’s face,
its ear a doll’s ear
not quite ready to hear the world
clogged and overflowed the pipe.
A delicate matter for delicate people,
this is not told widely among the tenants
but the old woman sees how the stain is sponged
after the upstairs lady moves away
and she has had time to chew over
how many times she bruised her own son’s face,
the teacher who never speaks of her ex
and the secrets women keep, burning
white rings in ceilings above their heads.
Kelly Weber is the author of the chapbook All My Valentine’s Days Are Weird from Pseudo Poseur Press. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in several publications, including The Midwest Quarterly, Triggerfish, and Clade Song, along with such anthologies as Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology and The Flat Water Stirs: An Anthology of Emerging Nebraska Poets. She has taught composition and poetry at Wayne State College, where she received her BA of English Writing and Literature and her MSE in English Education. She is currently working toward her MFA in poetry at Colorado State University. More of her work can be found at kellymweber.com.