The doorman always attending,
the postman leaving me
the neighborís tax returns.
Wishing my hair were clementine
red, not behind-the-fridge brown.
In the mornings, I forget Iím not
five-foot-ten. Iím alone as my fallen mother,
the cut bridge of her narrow nose; lonely as
the pale scar, shaped from the slicing
edge of her daughterís bookcase.
Like her petrified legs, waiting
for strength, Iím learning fear. A stranger
doesnít knock on the door at ten-thirty at night
because he wants to help. No one can
avoid all the insects and splinters, the sturdy
earth that exists to catch and sometimes
keep us. In my life, thereís always been
a woman leaving unrelenting lipstick
on the tumblers, pillowcases, saying ask
who it is when the doorbell rings and
if itís trouble, turn off the lights.
Nicole Steinberg is an editor-at-large of LIT and the founder and curator of Earshot, a NYC reading series dedicated to emerging writers. Her writing appears in publications such as BOMB, No Tell Motel, Eleven Eleven, Barrow Street and Barrelhouse. She is the author of a forthcoming chapbook, Birds of Tokyo (Dancing Girl Press), and the editor of a literary anthology, Forgotten Borough: Writers Come to Terms with Queens, to be published by SUNY Press in 2011. She hails from Queens, NY and currently lives in Philadelphia.