Poetry by Betsy Fogelman Tighe
Six months since either of us has made love
with any other, so after we can be certain of our status
and choose caution.
Two weeks delay for results, we are smokers
in a gas station, Jews slipping out of the ghetto,
single parents with the month’s grocery money spent.
Perhaps the worst would be not death, coming soon enough,
but the assault of one unbearable illness after another.
I believe suicide would be my answer, though I don’t say this
to you in the close cab of your old Ford,
en route to our selection.
The evening before, we’d watched a friend make music.
In the room were three men: guitarist, drummer, and a bartender,
I’d, let me not let on to you, made love with.
In the candlelight, I took in all their beauty,
wishing the results not forbid me to go on as I have been, experimenting
with intimacy, and passion. I like knowing
these men have been mine, perhaps no one else’s in the room
though soon we will learn how many of us are tied together
in a slow shuffle not a waltz.
We arrive on the dot of 9 clutching our numbers
like family at the prison gate the one morning
of the year they can be seen.
We leave boisterously
not brave enough to glance into the faces of the waiting men
one of whom is oddly familiar, but to whom we do not speak.
Betsy Fogelman Tighe has published widely in small literary magazines, including TriQuarterly 74, for which she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and Verseweavers, Number 14 and Fall 2015 for which she was awarded, respectively, third prize in the New Poets and first prize in the Dueling Judges category by the Oregon State Poetry Association. In 2016, she was a finalist for the Snake Nation Press Violet Reed Haas Poetry Prize. She had the opportunity to apprentice at American Poetry Review during her college years, and currently works as a teacher-librarian in Portland, OR, where she lives happily with one college-going child.