She tears the sleeves off her brother’s old shirt
and puts it on to have the feeling she belongs
here at this party that her parents threw
last minute before she could leave.
Old work friends of her dad’s were drinking
glasses of beer on the patio and her mother
was scanning the stations to locate good music.
She had told her about playlists before this,
but they never listened when she gave them
good ideas. They only snapped when they
could tell she wasn’t listening.

She pet the dog with her bare feet in the pool
and looked at their reflections and the shadows
cast by everyone around them.
There always was a sadness underlying these
suburban backyard parties that were really just
excuses to start drinking in the morning
and a venue to fuck with other people’s lives.
She cut raw steak with kitchen knives
on a wooden board she seasoned with salt
and other herbs her mother just insisted
would make everything perfect.

The sun went down but in its last orange burst
of awareness it refracted its light through the liquor
bottles lined up on the table like it was able to detect
where everything was going. She picked up plastic cups
and stacked them all into a bag that she would drag
out to the trashcans on the edge of their front driveway
that was all full up with cars that weren’t theirs.
Two men smoked something strong and watched the stars
as they began to wander into sight.
They asked her if she wanted light and her response
was simply how bright they were talking?

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