The Cost of Living
Annie and I lounge on the couch;
I rub her feet, focusing on the weak arches
as we watch the evening news and don’t talk
about what happened at the plant last Monday,
how one of the machines got hold of a man,
mashed him to pulp and spat him out in pieces.
I don’t tell her how the machine now seems
like a trusted dog that lunged without warning.
All the while, higher-ups keep slashing wages.
Mention a union, and you might as well write
your own pink slip.
Annie and I are down to one beer and we pass it
between us. I roll my tongue around the bottle lip,
tasting Annie’s spit, close as a kiss. After her shower,
I still smell kitchen grease seeping from her pores.
The man on the news has flawless white teeth
that flash when he begins a segment about saving
for retirement. Annie flips the channel,
tolerating a car dealership commercial
to avoid the reminder: she and I will work
till we’re dead.
Once in bed, we’re too tired for more
than a halfhearted fuck. I reach for the condom
before she asks. At the next family potluck supper,
her sisters will pester us, tell us we need to go on
and have a baby. Annie and I will avoid their stares,
feeling guilty for not even trying, for not wanting
to worry about another head sinking underwater.
By M. Stone
M. Stone is a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer who writes poetry while living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in San Pedro River Review, SOFTBLOW, Calamus Journal, and numerous other print and online journals. She can be reached at writermstone.wordpress.com.