about the author

Ali Shapiro is a recent graduate of the MFA program in poetry at the University of Michigan. Her poems have appeared in [PANK], RATTLE, Redivider, Cutbank, and Linebreak, and she’s a regular contributor to the Ploughshares blog. She’s the recipient of scholarships from the Fine Arts Work Center and the Vermont Studio Center, a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prizes in various denominations.

Bookmark and Share


font size

Leave Me Alone But Take Me With You

Ali Shapiro

Alternative content

I can’t even be alone
when I’m alone, the way the field hums
all our old songs, the moon
pulling everything closer. You’re the ghost
in my throat, the lump I swallow
and swallow, the name that comes out
of my mouth no matter who
I meant to call. I meant to call more
people back. To love someone other
than you and myself and the dog.
Now look at the moon, its far
hard rim, a coin in the wide
dark palm of the sky—it’s the way
I remember your body, brilliant
and out of my reach. I’ve been lonely for years
but never minutes. That’s why
I’m so terrible at it, that’s why
I keep needing to be rescued. Night here
has a pulse, electric and warm, each ear of corn
a live wire. It’s the crickets, the thrum
of rubbed wings, it’s the way
you used to touch me—your limbs
all bows, my limbs
all strings. Look at the sky, it’s everywhere
tonight, relentless and empty
of signs. Look at the field, the way
there’s no one else in it, the way
even now, having left you,
I’m still what’s left.

Alternate Endings

Ali Shapiro

Alternative content

We sailed off into the horizon
(we had learned
to sail earlier).

It was all a big
misunderstanding (I’m
sorry; you’re sorry).

Everyone died (Everyone
dies, everyone
knows that).

You said We’ll
meet again
we did).

We got married
(the priest was also
the cab driver).

It turned out
we were cousins

As I limped away
I stopped limping
(it was me all along).

You found out about the bet
I made with my friends
(but forgave me).

I came out of the coma
and remembered everything
(your face, your voice, the tattoo

of a snake on your shoulder,
all the zipcodes
we’d ever lived in).

You thought I was dead
but I was looming behind you

The plane was about
to take off but you made it
in time (Breathless: “Hi”).

You were dead but I could suddenly
hear you (“Ditto,”
you said).

We drove off a cliff
in a convertible (I was squeezing
your hand).

It was all a dream
(but you were still there
in the morning).

You showed up at my door
with two broken arms
(I thought you were dead).

On three we agreed
to take off our masks
(it was you all along).

And just like that
you were gone (it
was never explained).

The home team won
on a Hail Mary pass
(we rewound and watched it again).

I had amnesia
but you explained everything

It wasn’t too late
(roll credits,
raucous applause).

And just like that it was over
(things happened first,
but didn’t matter).

We rode off into the sunset
on horses (how we got the horses
was explained earlier).

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...