ONE POEM – Lauren Bender

Photo by Shapelined on Unsplash

are you kidding? I’d love to!

points for you if you are boss of the building, every lock
warm at your fingertips, every door’s soft click
yours as it shuts, every window with your face
reflected in it. points for you if there is

a hallway and if it turns a sharp right and if it cries
silence and if this, finally, activates your
maternal instincts, the way the silence is high
and hungry, and your boots rustle and fall

against tile, sound swallowed up into emptiness.
no one is around, but someone could be around,
which is why you don’t rub your palms, face, body
on the old brick walls when you are descending.

this stairwell circles a sturdy center, with corners
on its floor landings you can’t stop staring at.
you would choose those corners if you could choose,
anywhere. you would shuffle yourself into

an intersection, with tucked legs and hunched
shoulders, and never be human again. what could
they do? no one can force you to speak. though
it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t try to break

your new pattern, ask what was happening, in low
loud whispered shouts. in place of words you’d scrape
your wrists on the stone until it was colorful with
blood. it’s your secret fantasy of the world ending,

not with people but with surface, with structure,
with an echoing shell and you suspended inside,
a lovable core no one expects involvement from,
the once needed chimney filled in with concrete.


Lauren Bender lives in Burlington, VT. Her work has appeared in IDK Magazine, The Collapsar, Gyroscope Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Yes Poetry, and others. You can find her on twitter @benderpoet. 


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