WHEN DOES THAT HAPPEN

My tumblers have shimmied
from their locks, and this
from the door, so the whole apparatus

fails to open without some
bodily shove. I am smaller
than the man I live with.

I throw my body against its
flatness every morning, all day
twisted knob in my hands,

wrenched right, left,
all china bull, all quick-breathing
prey in the grass, all enlivened

battering ram. Days
warming toward summer,
the situation worsens,

becomes a vise on the ribs,
a bruised windpipe, a strangle-
hold on the upper arms.

Nothing we can do, says
the landlord, until we replace
the entire door, and the hinges,

and the frame and the floorboards,
too. When does that happen, I ask.
Soon, so he says, we’ll set it right;

just as soon as we can renovate
the bathroom, replace the tiles,
retrofit this hallway, start over

from scratch—we’ll need to do it
all at once. The whole thing
needs a total overhaul.


DSC_0045Kenzie Allen is a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, and a descendant of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. Her work has appeared in Sonora ReviewThe Iowa ReviewApogeeWord RiotDrunken Boat, and elsewhere, and she is the managing editor of the Anthropoid collective. She lives in Norway and on her tribe’s reservation in Oneida, Wisconsin.

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