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Poetry

Emily Kerlin

Emily Kerlin has published poems in journals such as Intima, Bridge, Storm Cellar, The Pittsburg Poetry Journal and the Blue Mountain Review. She lives in Urbana, Illinois where she has been teaching the difference between “chicken” and “kitchen” to English language learners in public schools for the last 20 years.  Find her at emilykerlin.com

Your First Apartment

We climbed the stairs
together to number 3
where the landlord
fiddled key in lock
to let us in a musty room
with the shabby couch,
dirty overhead light
and pint-sized stove,

and though my house
is less than a mile
away, and though
your room there
is free, just like
the food is free
and the parking
and the wi-fi
and the heating
and the laundry–
all free,

you look around
this tiny place
and you know
what you want–
which is to live
on your own,
here in this room
over the cafe
with the dawn-
facing window,
where paint chips fall
in the dusty sill
and clinks of spoons
in coffee cups
trail up the vents
instead of heat,

you know now
as well as you knew
that day in the hospital
twenty years ago
that it was time
to take your leave
of me

and with the same,
sudden flexing
of your gentle,
sturdy will, you show
me how you find
your own way

and carefully,
carefully, without
stumbling down
these stairs, this
is how I let you.

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