It starts with creased, yellowed papers of students’ work
stacked in a wire file basket
It’s the end of August, time to prepare
for the new kids coming in.
“Toss it all,” says her colleague from across the hall,
as he strips the bulletin boards bare.
She picks up a wrinkled sheet, reads
My mom got yelow paynt for the kichn.
Yellow paint splatters, spilling that memory
of her ex, with the walrus mustache.
And when he bends toward her,
the father of her aborted child,
the wild-haired Lebanese
who cajoles, “Tell me
how many men you’ve slept with.”
And when she counts them off
on her fingers,
he slams the ladder to the floor
(they are painting his bedroom yellow)
and calls her “slut” and “whore.”
The ladder shatters into spikes of glass
from the windowpane
he’s punched with his fist.
He bleeds on the yellow pillow she made for him,
with his name embroidered in Arabic,
that he’s cut open with a Chef’s Best knife.
“See what you made me do,” he says.
“See what you made me do.”