Leah Mueller




My boyfriend said
he didn’t love me any more

as I stood at the laundromat
pay phone, with a fistful
of quarters in one hand
and a receiver in the other.

My eyes were puffy and baggy
already, from crying for a week
in front of the mirror.

I could watch myself age,
and I often did, nestled as I was
against the backdrop

of gnarled farm machinery—it was
Norman Rockwell, but not picturesque.
I swore I wasn’t stuck there.

He wasn’t stuck either,
and he let me know in no uncertain terms,
while I rocked in the late afternoon

sheen of the mirrored windows
and the operator kept asking for money.

I finally hung up,
and she called me back
because she wanted more,

so I gave it to her, $2.25 additional,
all in quarters, which I kept dropping
on the linoleum floor, and they rolled
into crevices underneath the dryers,

where they shone like the eyes
of animals trying to hide.
I kept saying,

Hang on a minute.
I’m sorry.
I’ve got it all.
I just keep dropping it.

I began to weep, so
the operator asked
what was the matter, and I wailed,

My boyfriend no longer loves me!

She said she was sorry,
and I only owed seventy-five cents more
and she would be happy to hold
until all money had been deposited.

It was the kindest thing
anyone had said to me all week.

I was able to find
all the quarters I needed
so I could continue living.