The Prison Guard

In the morning, his trousers fresh from a dryer,
his windbreaker on a hook, he is the foreigner, poor man.
He’s had breakfast, his bacon in strips, on the sunporch,
and he’s brushed his teeth. As he leaves for work
his wife pours bleach from a white plastic jug
slowly, in spirals, into the bowl of the sink.

My darling, my darling, my darling, she says
when he wakes her up in the middle of the night
and breathes on her shoulder, diesel and paint.
A darkness flares, collapses, small-calibre shell.
He’s soft as a smuggler, this stranger. He’s clean.

:: Janet Kauffman, Where the World Is (1988)

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