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As You Leave Me

 Shiny record albums scattered over
the living room floor, reflecting light
from the lamp, sharp reflections that hurt
my eyes as I watch you, squatting among the platters, 
the beer foam making mustaches on your lips.
And, too, the shadows on your cheeks from your long lashes fascinate me--almost as much as the dimples in your cheeks, your arms and your legs.
You hum along with Mathis--how you love Mathis! with his burnished hair and quicksilver voice that dances among the stars and whirls through canyons like windblown snow, sometimes I think that Mathis could take you from me if you could be complete without me.
I glance at my watch.
It is now time.
You rise, silently, and to the bedroom and the paint; on the lips red, on the eyes black, and I lean in the doorway and smoke, and see you grow old before my eyes, and smoke, why do you chatter while you dress? and smile when you grab your large leather purse? don't you know that when you leave me I walk to the window and watch you? and light a reefer as I watch you? and I die as I watch you disappear in the dark streets to whistle and smile at the johns

Poem by Etheridge Knight
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