What is there to tell you when you are away on your trips
And you have five minutes to talk on the embassy phone?

You are in Tokyo–taking the Bullet Train to Kyoto for the day.
You are in Trinidad–watching the women dance to the steelpan drums.
You are in Baghdad. You are in Baghdad.

You are off on important business.
And I am home with the dogs
Watching movies on that ridiculous big-screen TV
You bought last summer.

I take photographs. I read Bergson. I run errands.
I make multiple trips to the grocery store
Because I forget to buy toilet paper the first time around.

I take another hot shower to pass the time.
I turn the heater up to 74 because you’re not here
To remind me about our electric bill.

I think back to the movie I just saw
And I can’t remember if it was subtitled.
I notice the soles of my boots slant inwards.

I wear the same shirt and the same pair of jeans
Until either begins to stink of sweat or oils or vaginal secretions,
And I can no longer stand the smell of my own body.
Then I find another outfit to wear for another few days.
And I wear it until you come home.


CLARISSA OLIVAREZ holds a Master's degree in Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Master's degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University. She currently lives with her husband and two dogs in the Washington, DC area. Her writing has been published in Haggard & Halloo, Blood Lotus, Fogged Clarity, Midwest Literary Magazine, and an anthology entitled Winter Canons. She has taught at American University and Northern Virginia Community College.

6 responses to “Loneliness”

  1. Gloria says:

    This is beautiful, Clarissa.

  2. New Orleans Lady says:

    Balls and In-your-face honest. Loved it.

  3. Yolanda says:

    I read it twice and found it to be very emotional…I can see how someone would feel this way..

  4. Thanks so much, Gloria, New Orleans Lady, and Yolanda. I’m so glad my voice comes off as “ballsy” and “honest.” I was trying to be as “real” as possible. This was a portrait of my life, moment-to-moment, (as I saw and felt it) a year ago. Thanks for reading!

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