Carolyn DeCarlo 

Two Chickens

I asked you not to wear that hat

every day that summer,

but no one could stop you.

You loved the graceful slope of it,

the corners turned up like the

arms of a chair.

We went to the same places

every night

so perhaps it didn’t matter

that your hat never matched

your shirt –

everybody knew it already –

but still, it bothered me

from time to time.

We were always matching

or nearly matching

and our friends were always

remarking on how wonderfully

we matched,

but there wasn’t anything

anyone could do about that hat,

all oily around the edges

and dyed a faint sandblasted

shade of taupe

that looked absolutely awful

against your pale complexion.

Everyone always commented

on our beautiful porcelain

complexions before

you got that hat.

Now they call you

pallid and limp,

words you use

to describe someone with

tuberculosis or another

of those horrible diseases,

but I know what’s what.

I know if you just took off

that hat you’d be good as new,

and no one would bother you

about your legs or your hair

or the way your skin no longer

resembles mine in the slightest.

I often wonder if perhaps you might

ease up on the drinking, if you’d just

confine yourself to one carafe

of wine per evening

you might not look so upsetting

even with that hat on. Then

perhaps the bags under your eyes

would flatten out and your cheeks

would puff up like two chickens

and you’d dance around the hall

like you used to.

But even then, there’s no telling

whether the lump on your knee

would subside or the

messy pile of your hair would flatten,

and perhaps you would just go on

declining, looking worse each year

until you’d pulled me down with you.

Carolyn DeCarlo has a few chapbooks online and in print. Her next, Spy Valley, is forthcoming from Dirty Chai in Fall 2016. She is trying to find the art of living in Maryland, but you can find her online at carolyndecarlo.com

Illustration by Elie Chap.