“/home” by Melissa Bobe

she walks into the bar
she has had a long day
the bar is empty
mercy, rare but not completely transient

Quasimodo works the bar
that is Quasimodo’s job
he is not self-conscious, broken, or
a veritable introvert;
calls himself a regular guy and
it’s a regular bar
so she gets a regular cosmopolitan

She thinks for a long time; thinks of dark aquariums, nightmare zebrafish and seahorses filling
up the glass like a demonic television set lit in a vacuum that reeks faintly of saline fish guts; of
neon skirts, ice skates with bones for blades; animal erasers, the kind you give to children;
broken pianos with whole people banging the keys, destroying because they feel fulfilled, the
more desperate souls concealed, wallflowers in a corner; engulfment; isolation; what it means to
fracture a piece of oneself, how casts make the skin itch so, how skin burns so quickly and easily
and can never change back

Quasimodo pours her another cosmo,
smiles a crooked
smile on his crooked face
enjoying the pre-happy hour lull,
like a meditation center—wood floors, incense, lit candles—
or a steam room
empty for the moment of stares at his
crooked everything
and sob stories from the nine-to-fivers,
     (god forgive him, they all
     looked the same—suits, ties,
     not a crook or wrinkle to be found
     removable wedding rings
     and the occasional squirt of botox
     like a twinkle in the eye but
     irremovable and grotesque)
He turns up Ani Difranco
ringing the bells and singing how grace/
has brought/ her safe/
thus far/ and grace/
will lead/ her

BobeMelissa Bobe holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Translation from CUNY Queens College. In 2011, she was a writer-in-residence at the Louis Armstrong House Museum. She founded a creative writing workshop for teens at her public library, and has also taught writing at Queens College and at Rutgers University, where she is currently pursuing a PhD in English literature. Her work has appeared in Anomalous Press, Steel Toe Review, and The Glass Coin. You can keep up-to-date with her on Twitter (@abookbumble).