Substitution

Coming to work early you meet
the man on shift before you.
It’s funny, he looks familiar,
then it turns out you know him.
He lives in the blue house
next door, white shutters. He says
“Hey, didn’t know you worked here, too.”

Didn’t know he worked here, too.
It changes you, his face fixed
in every mirror in the place,
and the way they mention your new
shirt, your eyes, how much
better you look, today.

When you finally break down
they just laugh. “Doesn’t matter,
why don’t you go home early?”
and you do. You climb into a blue
car, white doors, and your key works.
You pull into his driveway, walk
slowly up to the porch. Just what you feared,
your wife is waiting at the door.

(KZ 1977) (appeared in Plum Creek Review)

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