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the spare key
by Kimberly Castro

Just as I finally managed to forget,
I receive a call:
They said they were sorry.
They said it was an accident.
They pronounced you dead
on the scene.

Act on first instinct:
head for your apartment,
clutching the spare key
you gave years ago,
the spare you never asked for, back.

Do I remember?
Remember.
Fifth floor.
Left out of elevator
third door, right side.
Jiggle key only half-way in
while turning, unlock.
Search for the light switch,
always seconds after
the creaking floorboard
you meant to repair.

Your presence
reverberates
against the echo
of your name
I mouth
call out
searching for a glimpse
of dark hair, a shoulder,
a shadow, a mistake?
to peek from
a doorway and step
before me.

Silence.
So I peruse:

Pots and a frying pan
a wine glass
a dish and two forks
each sweating soapy droplets on
a drying rack;
New York Times stacked
from the first of last month;
wastebasket brimming
pieces of meticulously shredded mail;
The Best of Chet Baker
silent in the stereo;
Answering machine violently
blinking new messages:
One from your sister,
One from the auto mechanic,
One from an unrecognizable
acerbic female,
wondering why you
never showed up for dinner.
Channel 4 news
always helped you decipher
the weight of tomorrow's jacket.
Oak-lined closets,
neatly pressed shirts lined
from shorts sleeves to long,
a tux, still hung in clear plastic.
Cell phone scrolls
foreign names like Rachel,
Alaura, Eileen, Michelle.
Last movie watched:
Godfather 2, second disk.
Anna Karenina
curiously on the coffee table
alongside your sketches,
charcoals, a lip-stick stained glass,
and four remote controls.
Silver framed photo glows ominously
on the desk of you,
the bulldog named Sammy
and the father you hate.
Alarm clock set
for your 7am run;
And finally,
the journal from me, worn
crimson leather, cracked binding,
on the dresser
next to the bed.
I dare not open;
But undress, slip into
flannel sheets,
pull the comforter over my head—
darkness, warmth
and my breath laced with
traces of cologne
entering through my mouth,
seeping out of my pores.
My head sinks into the pillow
where your day's final
meanderings and dreams
once swam to empyreans
and me.

You are gone.
You had already left me.
But I will continue
to walk the routine,
clutching the spare,
finger nuances,
And sleep among the
unaltered contents
of your being,
so I can sustain
and remember
what took me long
to forget.

© Kimberly Castro

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