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Recorded for Poem-a-Day February 4, 2019.
About this Poem 

“This poem was an attempt to use a very focused and domestic scene to consider the ambiguity and confusion in the aftermath of a breakup.”
—Elizabeth Acevedo

After He's Decided to Leave

When the bottle of hot sauce shattered in the kitchen
he stood in the doorframe, shook his head at the mess.
 
Not worried if I was injured,
mostly curious at what else it was I’d broken.
 
You are so clumsy with the things you hold,
he never said.
 
The red stain on my chest bloomed pungent,
soaked any apology.
 
I used his shirt, the one I slept in,
to wipe the counter and pale-colored kitchen floor.
 
That night and the next for a straight week
as he prepared boxes to leave
 
I hunched and scrubbed the tiles. Couldn’t rid myself
of the things that I’d sullied, of the look he left behind.

Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Acevedo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 4, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Acevedo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 4, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo is author of THE POET X (HarperTeen, 2018), which won the 2018 National Book Award in Young People's Literature. She holds a BA from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion and lives in Washington, D.C.